Adult Survivors Act: Why so many sexual assault lawsuits have been filed under New York law

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New York’s Adult Survivors Act is set to expire Friday, which had given victims of sexual abuse a one-year window for claims that would otherwise be barred by time limits.

As a result, an avalanche of complaints and lawsuits have been filed in its last several days, with figures including Sean "Diddy" Combs and his former Bad Boy president Harve Pierre, Jamie Foxx, Axl Rose, Russell Brand, Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine, music executive L.A. Reid, Cuba Gooding Jr., and more sued for sexual assault ahead of the deadline.

More than 2,500 lawsuits have been filed so far under the law. Over a dozen have been filed by Wigdor LLP, a New York-based law firm, said Douglas Wigdor, partner.

Not all of the suits are against entertainment figures. The large majority have been filed against the state, New York City and local counties and involve allegations of abuse at state prisons and local jail systems.

Diddy has faced three lawsuits, including against singer Cassie, as a result of New York's Adult Survivors Act.
Diddy has faced three lawsuits, including against singer Cassie, as a result of New York's Adult Survivors Act.

The attorney behind Cassie Ventura’s lawsuit against Combs, Jane Doe’s lawsuit against Iovine and Julia Ormond's suit against Harvey Weinstein, Wigdor said one reason so many lawsuits against people in the entertainment industry have come out in the last few days of the law is because of the publicity Ventura’s case has received.

“I think that our case, involving Sean Combs, really got a lot of publicity. And people read about the Adult Survivors Act, and I think that provided impetus for people to come forward even though there were only a few days to do so,” he said. “And so, my hope is that at some point, they'll extend the ASA again, which is a possibility. And so that way other people can come forward.”

He says public perception may change the entertainment industry in response to credible sexual misconduct claims.

“With at least Cassie’s case, from what I observed, she received almost uniform support for coming forward,” he said. “When someone has evidence and support and a story that resonates as being truthful, that the public is very receptive to holding people accountable for these heinous acts.”

What is the Adult Survivors Act?

The act, signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 24, 2022, was modeled after a previous New York law offering people abused as children a temporary window to file claims.

Wigdor says similar laws — including New York City’s Gender Motivated Violence Act, which has a look-back period that expires in 2025, and California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, for claims occurring between 2009 and 2019 and expires in 2026 —  can be another means for victims to receive justice.

Wigdor is hopeful similar laws will be enacted in other cities and states, such as Washington D.C. “I don't think politicians should be immune from these sorts of cases,” he says.

One of the first Adult Survivors Act cases filed after the window opened was against former President Donald Trump. His accuser, writer E. Jean Carroll, was awarded $5 million after Trump was found liable for the 1996 sexual abuse. Trump has denied the allegation.

Sean 'Diddy' Combs accused of 1991 sexual assault of college student in second lawsuit

Sean 'Diddy' Combs hit with three lawsuits under Adult Survivors Act

The first lawsuit filed against Combs under the Adult Survivors Act was from R&B singer Cassie.

The Nov. 16 lawsuit alleged that Cassie, who began a professional and sexual relationship with the rap mogul when she was 19, was trafficked, raped and viciously beaten by Combs over the course of a decade.

Combs and Cassie reached a settlement one day later.

A second lawsuit was filed by Joi Dickerson-Neal on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges that the then-college student was sexually assaulted and abused by Combs in 1991 and that she was the victim of “revenge porn.” Combs videotaped the January 1991 assault and distributed the tape to others in the music industry, according to the suit.

A third lawsuit, filed by a Jane Doe in the New York Supreme Court, accuses Combs and Guy singer Aaron Hall of the sexual assault of her and a friend.

This lawsuit, obtained by USA TODAY, claims Combs and Hall took turns raping the two women in an incident that occurred in either 1990 or 1991.

The lawsuit alleges that the woman and her friend met Combs at an MCA Records event, where he and Hall were “flirtatious” and “handsy” with them and bought them drinks.

The woman alleges that Combs and Hall took her and her friend to Hall's apartment, where she was given more alcohol and later coerced into having sex with Combs. She says as she lay traumatized on the bed, Hall allegedly came in, pinned her down and raped her. She said her friend was also raped by both men.

The lawsuit also names MCA Records, Geffen Records, and several unknown individuals and entities that “aided and/or abetted” Comb's and Hall’s conduct in the lawsuit.

In a statement to USA TODAY Friday, a spokesperson for Combs called the latest lawsuit a “money grab.”

“Because of Mr. Combs’ fame and success, he is an easy target for anonymous accusers who lie without conscience or consequence for financial benefit,” the statement read. “The New York Legislature surely did not intend or expect the Adult Survivors Act to be exploited by scammers.”

USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Hall and Universal Music Group, the parent company of Geffen Records, which absorbed MCA Records, for comment.

A lawsuit has also been filed against Comb’s company, Bad Boy Entertainment, and its former president, Harve Pierre, for negligence and sexual assault. Pierre, who has been with Comb's company since its inception in 1993, is accused by a former employee — referred to as Jane Doe — of using "his position of authority as plaintiff’s boss to groom, exploit, and sexually assault her.”

Russell Brand faces sexual assault lawsuit under Adult Survivors Act

Among Brand's several accusations of rape, sexual assault and abuse, is a case filed Nov. 3 under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

The lawsuit, filed by Jane Doe, alleges the British comedian and actor sexually assaulted her on the set of the 2011 "Arthur" remake. The woman accused Brand of being "intoxicated" on July 7, 2010, before she says he exposed himself "in full view of the cast and crew," according to an affidavit obtained by People and the BBC.

Doe claims Brand sexually assaulted her in a bathroom later that same day "as a member of the production crew guarded the door from outside," according to the court documents.

Russell Brand's assault, rape allegations being investigated: What his accusers say happened

Terry Richardson accused by two women under Adult Survivors Act

Richardson, a photographer, has been accused by two former models of sexual assault under the Adult Survivor’s Act.

Spanish model Minerva Portillo alleged the photographer "sexually assaulted her in front of his employees," in a lawsuit she filed Tuesday.

Portillo alleges she was given a drink she believed contained "an intoxicating or narcotic substance," and afterward Richardson took photos of her on set before assaulting her, groping her breasts and forcing her to perform oral sex, as well as posing in photos next to her while erect, according to the suit.

The former model claims Richardson and his employees "photographed the assault while it was happening."

Caron Bernstein, a former actress and model, filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that in 2003 she was "lured" to Richardson's studio with a work offer but instead was "sexually assaulted, without her express or implied consent, by holding Bernstein's head and forcing Richardson's erect penis into and out of (her) mouth repeatedly and then ejaculating (his) semen on (her) neck, chest, and breasts," the suit claims.

Terry Richardson hit with second sexual assault lawsuit as NY Adult Survivors Act expires

Jamie Foxx denies sexual assault accusations filed under Adult Survivors Act

Foxx faces a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a Jane Doe in New York under the act. The suit alleges that in 2015, while intoxicated at a New York City rooftop bar, he made comments such as "Wow, you have that supermodel body," then took her to the back of the bar and touched her breasts and genitals.

Doe, who is seeking a jury trial, claims she was injured and had to undergo medical treatment while suffering pain and emotional distress.

In a statement to USA TODAY Thursday, a spokesperson for Foxx denied the incident happened, calling the allegations “frivolous.”

Jamie Foxx denies sexual assault accusations, calls lawsuit filed against him 'frivolous'

Axl Rose accused of 1989 sexual assault in Adult Survivors Act lawsuit

Rose, frontman for the band Guns N' Roses, is being sued for sexual assault under the New York law stemming from an incident in 1989.

Former Penthouse model Sheila Kennedy filed a civil lawsuit against the rocker Wednesday, alleging that Rose "used his fame, status, and power as a celebrity and performer in the music industry to gain access to manipulate, control, and violently sexually assault Kennedy" at his hotel room in New York City after meeting at a nightclub party.

Rose's attorney Alan Gutman of Gutman Law denied the allegations in a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday, calling the claims “fictional” and that Rose has “no recollection” of meeting Kennedy.

Record label execs Jimmy Iovine, LA Reid face lawsuits under New York law

Iovine was accused of sexual abuse in a summons filed Wednesday under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

The plaintiff, under the name Jane Doe, alleged in the court documents that she was "sexually abused, forcibly touched, and subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation" in incidents around August 2007.

An unnamed spokesperson for Iovine told Rolling Stone and Reuters that they are "shocked and baffled" by the allegations.

Reid was sued by former music executive Drew Dixon under the law, who says he sexually assaulted her and derailed her career.

Dixon, who worked for Reid when he was chief executive of Arista Records, alleges that Reid sexually assaulted her twice in 2001 and later cut her budget and sidelined artists when she rebuffed his continuing advances.

Messages left for Joel Katz, an attorney who represented Reid when Dixon first made her allegations public in 2017, weren’t immediately returned.

Cuba Gooding Jr. sued for sexual assault, battery under Adult Survivors Act

Gooding faces renewed allegations of sexual abuse by two women who previously brought criminal charges against the actor. Gooding was sued by Jasmine Abbay and Kelsey Harbert for sexual assault and battery in two separate lawsuits filed Wednesday under the law.

Abbay and Harbert, who’ve both alleged sexual misconduct by Gooding in past encounters, claim the actor’s behavior was “malicious, willful (and) outrageous.” In addition to a jury trial, both women are seeking damages for lost wages and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.

USA TODAY has reached out to Gooding's representative for comment.

Bill Cosby, NBCUniversal sued by 'The Cosby Show’ actress before Adult Survivors Act ends

An unnamed woman who worked as a stand-in at “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s said in a lawsuit Tuesday that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually abused her after offering to mentor her.

Jane Doe said that after being invited to his home, she said she blacked out during an acting exercise after drinking wine apparently laced with an intoxicant. She awoke “partially undressed and vomiting into a toilet,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks damages for battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

NBCUniversal and other companies are accused in the lawsuit of negligence. Representatives of the companies did not immediately respond to emailed messages from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

Contributing: Anika Reed, Pamela Avila, Naledi Ushe, KiMi Robinson, Charles Trepany and Edward Segarra, USA TODAY; Carolyn Thompson and Michael Hill, The Associated Press

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, RAINN offers support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE &

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why an expiring New York law led to lawsuits against Diddy, Axl Rose