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Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

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helpA total 427 NY sexual abuse lawsuits were filed in courts last Wednesday, on the first day of the one year window during which victims of childhood sexual abuse in New York State have the possibility to sue their abuser independently of  when the abuse occurred. 169 cases were filed in New York City and another 258 cases outside of the city. 45 judges including 12 in New York City have been specifically designated to deal with this increase in cases.

Many of these lawsuits were directed against the Catholic Church including 35 of them against the catholic diocese of Rochester in Monroe County.   A first suit was filed against the ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who was a prominent figure in the church, was  defrocked by the pope in February 2019 after an internal investigation revealed that he had sexually abused minors and adult seminarians.

Several suits were directed against the Boy Scouts of America. Claims were also filed against Rockefeller University Hospital where Dr. Reginal Archibald is accused of abusing hundreds of boys who were sent by their parents to his clinic because they were having medical issues related to growth.

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helpFollowing the signature of the NY Child Victims Act into Law by Andrew Cuomo on February 14th that gave all sexual abuse victims in New York State the possibility to sue their abuser during a one year window starting on August 14th, hundreds of victims are expected to come forward.

The New York Catholic diocese is expected to face the highest amount of civil lawsuits. Almost 500 priests who served in New York Dioceses in the past have been accused of molesting children.Other organizations dealing with children such as the Boy Scouts of America, schools and hospitals are also expected to be hit by a flood of lawsuits filed by adult survivors of sex child abuse.

After years of having their cases barred from court because the allegations were too old, NY victims of sexual abuse finally will get compensated for what they endured.  Before the NY Child Victims Act  was signed, New York State law was one of the most restrictive in the country. After the one year window period during which any victim can sue their abuser, victims of childhood sexual abuse will have have until 55 year old to sue their abuser while before the new law was signed, they only had until 23 year old to do so (see previous blog).

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Lori-KornblumProfessorDanielPollackIf you are working with children or near children on regular basis you may witness behaviors that may indicate that a child suffers abuse.

In a recent article, Lori S. Kornblum, an adjunct faculty member at Marquette University Law School focusing on child abuse and the law and Daniel Pollack a professor at the school of social work at Yeshiv University in New York write about signs that indicate that a child might be abused and how to deal with it.

If a child is engaging in abnormal sexual play such as humping another child or putting a doll  next to the genital area of another child it might be a sign that the child is being abused.  If this happens it is important not to react emotionally to the child’s behavior as he or she might just shut down and you might never be able to find out about the abuse. Try to develop a relationship with the child and gain his or her trust. When the child feels comfortable enough, try to ask questions leading to the child disclosing abuse such as “can you tell me more about the game you are playing right now?”. Don’t judge and just ask open ended questions. If the child discloses abuse, tell him or her that you need to tell some other people so they can help. Make sure the child is safe. Give a call to CPS or law enforcement depending on the cases. Sometimes a call to the police might be justified for example if the child disclosed that the boyfriend of the mother abuses him or her and that the mother is about to pick him or her up.

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Roman_Catholic_Archdiocese_of_New_York coat of armsThe archdiocese of New York released a list of 120 clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors.  In a letter accompanying the list, Cardinal Timothy Dolan asked “forgiveness again for the failings of those clergy and bishops who should have provided for the safety of our young people but instead betrayed the trust placed in them by God and by the faithful.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York is the second largest diocese in the United States.  According to statistics from 2014, 932 archdiocesan priests and 913 priests of religious order as well as 359 deacons, 1,493 religious brothers, and 3,153 nuns serves a community of 2,634,624 catholic people belonging to 296 parishes located in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island as well as in the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester, New York. It also operates hundreds of schools, hospital and charities.

Not the most transparent list

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helpVictims of sexual abuse in New Jersey are anxiously waiting for Governor Murphy to sign a bill that was passed by the legislature and that would extend the two-year statute of limitations in civil cases for sexual-assault victims.
The bill which was passed on March 25 by both houses of the New Jersey State legislature significantly expands the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases by giving victims until 55 year old to file a lawsuit if they were under 18 at the time of the abuse. (see the bill for details). The governor said he was supporting the bill.
The bill also offers a two-year window for any victim of sexual abuse in New Jersey who was previously blocked by the existing statute of limitations from bringing a case to bring one.
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An 11 year old girl was allegedly sexually abused by a NYC school teacher. 29 year old Daniel Santiago, an elementary school teacher was arrested on Monday and charged with sex abuse and acting in a manner to injure a child under 17. The teacher who worked at the Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy which shares a building with PS 244 in East Flatbush had been abusing the victim since February this year.

A cousin saw the abuser’s inappropriate messages on the girl’s cell phone

The abuse started on a bus trip. While students were riding the bus, the teacher inappropriately touched the chest of the girl. Then on the same trip but while returning, the teacher sat next to the girl and slipped his hands into her pants to touch her genitalia. He then asked her to touch his genitalia which she did.  The same occurred at the school again. The teacher also sent inappropriate text messages and pictures to the 11 year old student.

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helpYesterday was a historical day for victims of sexual abuse in New York as Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into Law.  This new law extends what was one of the most restrictive statutes of limitations in the country.  Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until 55 year old to sue their abuser while before the new law was signed, they only had until 23 year old to do so.  Additionally a one-year “look back” period that will start in 6 months will allow  all sexual abuse victims to sue their abuser even for cases that date from decades ago.

THE NY CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS AT LEAST 480 PRIESTS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE BUT VICTIM ADVOCATES BELIEVE THERE ARE FAR MORE

A lot of victims are expected to come forward now that the new law has passed. Any New York school or youth organization that hired a child molester in the past could now be the target of a lawsuit. The New York catholic dioceses may face the most lawsuits.  Among the 8 New York dioceses, 6 of them have publicly listed a total of 249 priests who have been accused of molesting a child. The only two dioceses who haven’t publicly identified sexually abusive priests are the Archdiocese of New York City and the Rockville Centre Diocese.  In 2004  the Archdiocese of New York City announced that it was aware that 45 of its priests had sexually abused children but no names were revealed. The Rockville Centre Diocese also acknowledged that 66 of its priests were accused of sexually assaulted children but again no names were mentioned.  Among the dioceses that published the names of their abusers, Buffalo had the largest list with 80 priests recognized as sexual abusers followed by 57 for Syracuse, 46 for Albany, 30 for Ogdensburg, 23 for Rochester and 13 for Brooklyn.

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Many Jesuits priests accused of sexual abuse worked in NYC high schools according to a list released earlier this month by the Jesuits.  Xavier, Regis, Brooklyn Prep and Fordham Prep  which are among New York’s best catholic schools, all appeared to have hired priests who were identified by the Society of Jesus as having a history of sexual abuse found to be “more likely true than not after investigation.”

Alleged sexual predator was still teaching at Masters School

The allegations are from decades ago and 35 priests mentioned on the list have now passed away.  Others have been removed from ministry or restricted from serving in public roles. Most of them have not been teaching for years. However one of them was still teaching at Masters Schools, a prestigious private school with no religious affiliation located in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester,  just North of New York City.  Up until a few days ago Robert Cornigans lived on campus and was an English teacher there.  Cornigans who left the Jesuits in 1981 was hired by the school in 2004 despite allegations that came out in 2003 that he had abused a child in 1976. After the list was published he was immediately forced to resign and to leave his campus residence. The school sent a letter to the parents and the community to apologize and informed them that they would hire an outside firm to investigate the case.

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helpOn January 28 2019, there was a major development for those who have been victims of sexual abuse as children. Both chambers of the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which has been sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature.

The Child Victims Act extends the current statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse that occurred in the state of New York. Under the new law, prosecutors will be able to bring criminal charges against sexual abusers until the victim is 28 years old. The act also allows victims to bring a lawsuit in civil court against their abusers until the age of 55.

In addition, the act allows a one-year window, starting six months from the effective date of the act, for past victims of child sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits against their abusers and the public and private institutions that let the abuse happen. Further, the act eliminates the Notice of Claim requirement for bringing suits against public institutions both prospectively and during the one-year window for past victims.

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New York Personal Injury Attorneys Ben Rubinowitz and Peter SaghirWe are pleased to announce that our partners, NYC Personal Injury Lawyers Ben Rubinowitz and Peter Saghir have obtained a record setting settlement on behalf of four young boys who were sexually abused by a worker at a local catholic church in Brooklyn.  The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens and a local after school program will pay $27,500,000 which will be divided evenly with each boy receiving $6,875,000.  This is the largest settlement in the country paid by the Catholic Church to an individual survivor of sexual abuse.

Between 2003 and 2009, Angelo Serrano, sexually abused the four young boys who were between the ages of 8 and 12.  Serrano who was 58 years old at the time of his arrest in 2009 was a long time worker at St. Lucy’s St. Patrick’s, a Catholic church in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn.  Serrano served as a CCD teacher at the church and also as the Director of Religious Education.  The abuse which took place over a number of years was perpetrated inside the church and in his apartment which was located in the old school house of the church.

It was revealed during depositions that the priests in the church knew or certainly should have known that Serrano was sexually abusing children.  One priest testified that he witnessed Serrano inappropriately embrace and kiss an eight or nine year old boy on the mouth in the church office.  Despite witnessing this behavior the priest did not report this conduct, document it or even ask the child his name.