Why there are so many sexual assault accusations in 2024

Sean Diddy Combs

Actor Jamie Foxx, musician Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, and businessman Sean "Diddy" Combs are among the many famous superstars in the United States who have been accused of sexual assault, and this trend has only increased in recent days. 

Other prominent figures such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and former governor Andrew Cuomo have also faced accusations.

Such is the significance of this new wave that the American press divided much of the extended Thanksgiving holiday of 2023 between covering the situation in Israel and Gaza, as well as the accusations and denials. 

Despite how bizarre and widespread it seems, this surge of claims has a very specific cause. 

The current wave of sexual assault accusation in the United States is all connected to the Adult Survivors Act, a unique New York state law that allowed victims a year to sue both the accused sexual offenders and the institutions that had enabled the attacks.

According to The New York Times, more than 3,000 legal accusations were filed. While most of the attention has gone to last-minute lawsuits against celebrities, the bulk of the accusations are against regular people and institutions like the New York Police Department, hospitals, and the Department of Prisons.

A nostalgic voice

The Adult Survivors Act was approved in 2022 by the New York State Legislature. This created a one-year window during which victims of sexual assault who were 18 or older at the time of the abuse may bring civil cases. 

The statute's stated goal was to retrospectively lengthen the period of time that the crime of adult sexual abuse remained a felony.

It all started in 2017 with the start of the #MeToo campaign, which prompted people to think about how victims of sexual violence should be able to process aggression without time constraints.

Although a statute extending the time limit for filing civil or criminal claims related to sexual offences in New York was passed in 2021, it did not apply to claims filed in the past.

On November 24, 2022, the legislation came into effect, and its one-year duration led to its repeal on November 25, 2023.

Keep in mind that plaintiffs were limited to using civil courts to file their complaints. Fines in the form of money will be the ultimate punishment. Under this law, no one will go to prison if proved guilty.

Renowned, common, and institutional parties against whom claims are made

The state's prison system, and Rikers Island in particular, has been the most accused facility, as reported in The New York Times.

Multiple well-known people in the entertainment, music, and political industries have also been the targets of accusations.

E. Jean Carroll's sexual assault action against former US President Donald Trump was one of the first, and Carroll eventually obtained a five million dollar settlement.

In recent years, a number of women have accused former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and actor-comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault, leading to lawsuits against both men.

Sean "Diddy" Combs’ ex-girlfriend Cassie, whose real name is Cassie Ventura, accused the buinsessman of a history of "abuse, violence, and sex trafficking" during their relationship. A legally binding deal was established, despite the rapper's vehement denials. But other women have come out in the last several days to accuse him of sexually abusing them.

Accusations of sexual assault have also been levelled against other music executives, such as LA Reid, Jimmy Lovine, and former Grammy CEO Neil Portnow.

Axl Rose has denied knowing the woman who accused him of sexually abusing her in a hotel room in New York City in 1989, but the model is still suing him nonetheless.

Two women who claimed to have been grabbed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in 2018 and 2019 filed lawsuits against the actor, while the unidentified complainant in Jamie Foxx's 2015 sexual assault lawsuit says that the actor sexually attacked her at the New York City eatery Catch NYC.

A woman who worked with New York City Mayor Eric Adams in the 1993–1994 administration, has also sued him, claiming that he sexually abused her, with Adams maintaining that he has never met the accuser.

Furthermore, a former staffer of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sued him, claiming "ongoing sexual harassment," which included allegations of groping and retaliation after her reporting of the incident. Cuomo has long refuted the claims.

What follows?

Experts predict that most claims, if deemed legitimate, could take years to reach trial. A number of people, including MPs, attorneys, and activists, are trying to either have the legislation reinstated or find a long-term solution.