What to Know
Taking a cue from the Oscar-nominated film, Kat Sullivan decided to put up three billboards to warn people of the man she says raped her
The three billboards are strategically placed in three states
Sullivan is also urging the New York State Senate to also pass the Child Victims Act
Mirroring a plot from one of the biggest movies of the year, one woman who says she was raped two decades ago by a teacher at her upstate New York private school has decided to take matters into her own hands.
Taking a cue from the Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Kat Sullivan says she decided to put up three billboards to warn people of the man she says raped her in the late 1990s.
“I have no legal recourse against my rapist and as a result he’s been free for the last 20 years to hurt other young girls," Sullivan said in a statement. "Child sex abuse is an epidemic in New York and it’s time our laws work to protect children, not the people who harm us."
Inspired by the award-winning drama where a woman puts up billboards to find her daughter's killer, Sullivan has now strategically placed signs in: Albany, New York, where Sullivan says she was attacked while at the Emma Willard School; Fairfield, Connecticut, where Sullivan says her rapist lived at the time of the rape and taught at a different school in the area afterwards; and Springfield, Massachusetts, where Sullivan says her rapist currently lives.
Sullivan says she was raped in 1998 by her history professor and soccer coach at the all-girls Emma Willard School in Rensselaer County's city of Troy, adding that even though she told school administrators of the crime, they failed to report it to the authorities and allowed her attacker to continue teaching.
In 2016, the Emma Willard School settled with Sullivan for failing to file a police report. The terms of the agreement are confidential.
In a statement to NBC New York, the Emma Willard School said, “We feel grief and compassion for anyone who experienced harm in the past and we are committed to the continued work that is necessary to keep our students safe. We commend and support the survivors of sexual abuse who are committed to affecting change around this important issue.”
When Sullivan decided to go to the authorities on her own years after the attack, she says she found out she had no legal recourse due to current statutes of limitations. She now wants to change those laws.
Through these billboards, Sullivan also wants to implore the state Senate to pass the Child Victims Act, which already passed the state Assembly last year. The legislation seeks to increase the criminal and civil statutes of limitations, remove special protections for public institutions that have acted as a shield against liability and create a one-year look-back window to allow survivors over the age of 23 to seek retrospective civil relief.
New York State’s Senate Majority leadership did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
According to a recent Quinnipiac College poll, 90 percent of New York state voters support the bill.