We 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 and 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.
Depositions further revealed numerous instances in which priests and other church workers failed to recognize and report the inappropriate conduct by Serrano around children in the Church. Multiple people testified to knowing Serrano gave children gifts and games in violation of church policy and also of having favorite boys.
In addition, the priests testified that they instructed their staff that nobody was to be in the church office alone with boys. Nevertheless, a secretary and employee for the church testified she saw Serrano in the office with boys on his lap helping them with homework and that when she would leave for the day she would leave Serrano alone in the office. She testified she never reported his conduct and Serrano admitted in his deposition that he sexually abused boys in that same church office.
Serrano eventually pled guilty and admitted to sexually abusing the boys over a period of years. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Unfortunately, we know of other boys who were severely abused by Serrano; however, the statute of limitations prevents their claims from being brought.
We are working to change this law – a law that allows abusers to avoid responsibility by hiding behind technical time limitations that were never meant to protect wrongdoers when they engage in such despicable conduct.