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Why Grooming Behavior Is So Hard To Recognize

Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2022 at 5:02 pm    

We know that unusually close relationships between an adult and a child can be suspicious, but often we don’t catch on to the issues until it’s too late. Grooming has been in the news frequently in recent months, with many celebrities being accused of grooming young starlets. But grooming isn’t just something that happens in Hollywood – it can, and does, happen anywhere.

What is grooming?

Grooming is a manipulation tactic. One of the reasons that grooming can be hard to recognize is because it happens slowly over time. The predator takes their time offering favors, presents, and other things in order to gain the trust of their victim. The predator tries to create a strong emotional bond, so that later when they start using this bond to their advantage, the victim trusts them too much to question anything. This trust is what makes victims of grooming so reluctant to report any untoward behavior. The betrayal is insidious and happens gradually, so that by the time things have gone awry the victim often doesn’t realize it. Additionally, victims of grooming are nearly always very young and inexperienced. The attention of someone older and seemingly wiser can be overwhelming to a young victim, and they may be dazzled by the affection, interest, and gifts.

Grooming can happen online

Another reason that grooming can be hard to catch is that it doesn’t always happen in front of you. Grooming can be more noticeable when it’s a teacher at your child’s school, a too-friendly neighbor, or another adult in your child’s life. While an online predator may never meet their victim, they can still have a serious and damaging impact. In some ways, online predators are more dangerous. You can’t monitor all of your child’s activity online, and an online predator can pretend to be anyone they want. A young child may be easily fooled into thinking that the person they’re talking to is a peer, instead of an older predator with less than honest intentions.

How to spot the signs of grooming

The best thing you can do for your child is stay alert. As much as possible, pay attention to who they talk about, who seems to have an important role in their life, and if they suddenly clam up about a certain person. If they have received gifts from an unknown source, or if someone seems to do a lot of favors, these are signs to be aware of. For their online activity, be aware of an inordinate amount of time spent online, and if your child refuses to open up about who they’re talking to or what they’re doing. Children tend to want to be independent and keep their friendships private, but if your child is keeping an excessive amount of secrets about one person in particular, you may want to press further. Explain to your child that friendships shouldn’t be secret, and if someone is convincing them to keep their friendship private, they should be wary.

If your child has been groomed by a predator, contact the compassionate childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. Even if the grooming happened online, the trauma is still real. Contact us today at 646-685-8045 for a free and confidential review of your situation.


How To Spot Sex Trafficking Victims

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 2021 at 5:20 pm    

Thousands of children become the victim of sex trafficking every year. In New York, there were 454 cases of human trafficking reported in 2019. The pandemic only made trafficking worse, because there were fewer resources for victims to use to escape their abusers. One of the main issues with human trafficking is that victims hide in plain sight. You may interact with a trafficking victim and never know it if you aren’t familiar with the warning signs. Below is a guide to some of the common warning signs of a human trafficking victim.

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and/or abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute or lacking personal possessions
  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
  • Poor physical or dental health

Specifically, sex trafficking can affect children in ways that are unexpected to those that are not familiar with these crimes. Foster children in particular are targeted as trafficking victims. It is estimated that 60% of child sex trafficking victims have previously been in foster care. A child who suddenly is bringing home items they couldn’t usually afford, like expensive electronics, designer bags, or video game systems, could be a red flag for trafficking. This is a common trafficking tactic. The trafficker “befriends” someone vulnerable, like a child who is isolated and/or in foster care and lavishes them with expensive presents. Then, once the child has accepted these gifts and enjoyed them, the trafficker will use it against them and say that those presents weren’t free, and now the child needs to pay them back.

In some cases, you even need to be careful about approaching the parents. Parents (foster or otherwise) can become traffickers of children in their care, and this is one of the most commonly overlooked cases of trafficking. The most important thing to do is to be a consistent and trustworthy presence in the lives of a child you are concerned about. By simply being there for them, you may be able to earn their trust enough for them to confide in you.

If your child was a victim of human trafficking, you are not alone. You and your child deserve the opportunity to fight for your rights. For a free and confidential review of your situation, contact us today at 646-685-8045.


Hach & Rose Omegle Lawsuit Featured in USA Today

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2021 at 7:30 pm    

Online child sex abuse on sites like Facebook, not just the ‘dark web’: Can they stop it?

This article originally appeared on northjersey.com and was written by Dustin Racioppi and Trenton Bureau.

Soon after schools in New Jersey switched to remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic last March, an 11-year-old girl went home with her school-issued Chromebook and logged into the popular chat website Omegle for the first time.

The platform, whose tagline is “talk to strangers,” paired the girl, identified as C.H., with a group of fellow minors. They appeared to be older than her, so C.H. left.

Then, in the next chatroom, a man threatened her into stripping naked and masturbating for him, according to court papers. C.H. had become one of the pandemic’s earliest victims in an unprecedented wave of child sexual abuse and exploitation online.

Home isolation and remote instruction in the pandemic, paired with little government oversight, underfunded law enforcement and poor self-regulation by tech platforms, has created a fertile breeding ground online for pedophiles, law enforcement officials and experts said.

The result has been a staggering 65.4 million images of suspected child sexual abuse material reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children last year. But 95% of the reports from internet companies came from Facebook alone, raising questions about the efforts platforms put into self-policing for child abuse.

Comparable tech giants reported exceedingly smaller figures to the national center: 65,062 by Twitter and 265 by Apple, for example.

“The fact is these companies are not investing significant resources into developing technology to stop illegal activity and child predators,” said Hany Farid, a professor at the UC.

“They can talk all they want about how important this material is and how there’s zero tolerance, but I can tell you, having worked with these companies for over a decade now, their heart is just not in it,” he added. “It’s not good for business.”

As a result, Farid said, abusers “have a sense of immunity.”

That seemed to be the case when a man identified in a lawsuit as John started talking to C.H. in the second chat room she entered on Omegle last year.

John told C.H. he knew where she lived and provided her the geolocation of her home. Then he threatened to hack the cell phones and computers in her house before demanding she strip and masturbate in front of the computer’s camera for him, according to court papers.

Parents often think online sexual abuse can’t happen to their child, or that it’s a problem in other places, in the dark corners of the internet, experts say.

That was the mindset of C.H.’s mother, M.H., she said in an interview. Her focus at home was getting through the upheaval brought on by the pandemic, not the threat of her children being exploited on the internet, she said.

“I didn’t even think that, ‘Oh my god, now we’re going to go online and potentially have a random website that targets kids to profit off of the pandemic,’” said M.H., whose full identity, and that of her daughter’s, is being protected for privacy concerns.

“I never, ever saw this coming,” she said.

Stacia Lay, an attorney for Omegle, said she could not comment on the family’s case against the company but said “the vast majority” of interactions on the site help people meet and share perspectives from around the world.

“Any inappropriate behavior that has occurred, while a very small percentage of the millions of daily interactions, is deeply disturbing and unacceptable,” Lay said.

“We have enhanced and strengthened Omegle’s moderation practices to help prevent inappropriate use of our technology so that a small minority of bad actors don’t ruin the positive interactions experienced by millions of users.”

Child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, is a term preferred by law enforcement that covers a range of activity.

It could mean a video, photo or livestream of an adult sexually abusing a child. It could mean a child who has been “sextorted” shares images of them naked or touching themselves. It could mean teenagers trading — or selling — nude selfies on social media platforms.

“Our investigators see a lot of videos where kids are performing sex acts for (the) camera, in their bedrooms and their bathrooms, and you can hear the parents’ voices in the next room,” said Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s e-Safety Commissioner and former employee of Adobe, Microsoft and Twitter. “It’s almost all remote coercion.”

Under federal law, online companies face criminal liability if they know about child sexual abuse material on their platforms and don’t take it down “as soon as reasonably possible.”

But, “the thing is, you don’t have to look,” said Brian Levine, director of the Cybersecurity Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The government should step in with more regulation, Levine said, because there are “almost no laws in place for tech companies” to protect children from abuse online.

In a sweeping report on the prevalence of abuse material, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said that in the absence of regulatory requirements companies “have no commercial or legal interest in investing in measures to prevent the images from surfacing or re-surfacing in the first place.”

“There are no consequences for inaction on the prevention side,” the center said.

Most tech companies use Photo DNA, a unique digital signature, or “hash,” that is used against other photos to find abuse material. But it is also a decade-old technology and few companies have invested in advancements to identify CSAM, experts said.

But even if all online companies stepped up their efforts and reported more abuse to the national center, already swamped law enforcement agencies would fall even farther behind, experts said.

“What do you do with 60 million reports a month?” said Matthew Green, a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University. “We don’t have the police to deal with 1.6 million or 160,000 reports a month.”

Apple, the world’s largest company, announced earlier this year it would scan devices for images of child sexual abuse but it delayed those plans after facing backlash over privacy concerns.

Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said no company wants abuse material on their platforms but they try to balance child safety with personal privacy.

Apple’s announcement raised alarms among privacy advocates like the ACLU because “it’s an expansion of the territory of surveillance,” Granick said, and “it is ripe for abuse and to be extended to things that are not illegal.”

Apple did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Some popular social media platforms have become breeding grounds for abusers to groom victims and openly seek abusive images.

Ninety-seven percent of the CSAM found by the Canadian center in a global analysis was on the “clear web,” it said, meaning publicly accessible websites such as Facebook, Google, Reddit and Twitter.

In a separate analysis, the Canadian center said 78% of images and videos depicted children under 12 years old.

On Twitter, the USA TODAY Network conducted a hashtag search one day in July and found users looking “for 12-17 girls” and “Teen only or r8pe videos.”

Many included links purported to be files of such material, but the Network did not click them to verify. Simply typing in known terms automatically populated the search box with the hashtags to find users discussing or trading abuse material.

But according to a 2019 study by the Canadian center, Twitter makes it “extremely difficult” to report abuse material and it received the organization’s lowest rating compared to platforms such as Facebook, Bing and Pornhub, the popular pornographic website.

And although Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, its 65,000 reports of abuse imagery last year “are extremely low for the size of Twitter’s platform,” according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The national center said in a lawsuit against Twitter that it has “enabled and profited” from abuse material on its platform and described it as “one of the most prolific distributors of material depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.”

The center said when Twitter was first alerted in 2018 that abuse imagery featuring the center’s two anonymous clients was on the website, the company “refused” to remove it. Twitter can, and has, blocked certain hashtags, but the ones included in that lawsuit had not been blocked as of July, when the Network used them for searches.

“If you look at what’s going on right now with big tech, they’re selling this narrative: ‘Oh, we’ve got this filter, oh, we’ve got this to keep kids safe,” said Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian center. “It’s a bunch of baloney.”

For victims whose images spread online, the fallout can be intense and lifelong. They often struggle with interpersonal relationships, holding down a job and substance abuse.

Knowing that those images are circulating make it difficult to move past the trauma of abuse, Cassie said. A large part of that is because federal law enforcement notifies victims each time their image is known to have appeared online.

She holds tech companies largely responsible for the re-traumatization that happens to victims like her each time they learn their images were found online.

“All of these platforms are making money off these pedophiles sharing these images,” Cassie.

Facebook said it uses PhotoDNA, VideoDNA and other methods across all its apps to detect and remove abusive images from being shared. It also has 40,000 people working on safety and security and has invested $13 billion in “teams and technology” since 2016, the company said.

Since 2019, Facebook said it has made its technologies open source, allowing other developers and platforms to more easily identify abusive content.

“We have no tolerance for this abhorrent abuse of children and use sophisticated technologies to combat it. We’ve funded and helped build the tools used to investigate this terrible crime, rescue children and bring justice to victims. We’ve shared our anti-abuse technologies with other companies and worked with experts to prevent and tackle this abuse,” Antigone Davis, global head of safety for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said in a statement.

Farid, the Berkeley professor, said social media companies in general “are failing at this job” of protecting children on their platforms. He compared them to the airline industry.

“Imagine when the Boeing 737 Maxes fell out of the sky and the CEO of Boeing came up and said, ‘Hey look, here’s all these planes that we landed safely,’” Farid said.

“Does anybody think that that would be a reasonable response to 200 some-odd people that died when that plane crashed? You don’t point over here and say ‘I do all these things well’ when there’s horrific crimes happening on your platforms, but that’s exactly what the industry does.”

If Facebook encrypted all its platforms without ensuring it won’t lead to further exploitation, the move could effectively “make invisible” 12 million, or 70%, of abuse material cases, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission document.

“Why can’t we all agree that encryption is not helping the privacy of these children?” Levine said. “It’s putting them in a situation that puts them in danger.”

The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly factored into the increase of online abuse because “minors have been at home more than ever” and “offenders are home more than ever right alongside of them,” said Steve Grocki, chief of the child exploitation and obscenities section at the U.S. Department of Justice.

A 28% increase in tips of suspected abuse to the national center over 2019 seems to bolster Grocki’s point.

But statistics cannot convey the full extent of what’s happening online, a lesson Mrs. Williams, whose full name has been withheld, recently learned firsthand.

A foster parent of several children, Williams said she was “shocked” even after being warned by Homeland Security that two of her adopted daughters had been abused by their father. The agent had shown her filing cabinets full of abuse cases and told her the agency had storage units more, but Williams didn’t understand until she started receiving notices in the mail that are required to be sent each time a victim’s image is discovered online.

The notices flooded her post office box. After going away for a week, she said she returned to find her mailbox full.

It was full again the next day, and included a notification saying as much. Mrs. Williams went to the post office counter to learn more. The staff returned carrying “two huge crates” full of notifications that sexual abuse images of her new daughters had been found online.

“It was heartbreaking to see,” she said. “I sat on the floor in my bedroom and I went through the mail, or I started to, and it was just overwhelming because I didn’t realize how severe of a problem we had.”


NYU Langone Doctor Takes Advantage of Transgender Patient; Hach & Rose Fights for Justice

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2021 at 9:48 pm    

A person who makes the brave decision to medically transition with the help of a doctor will not have an easy time regardless of the situation. The cruelty of a doctor who decides to take advantage of a young child going through a difficult time is immeasurable. A study found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point during their lifetime. No one should ever be sexually assaulted, but it is especially abhorrent for a doctor to abuse the trust of a young patient, scarring them for life.

Our client was assigned female at birth and sought medical advice regarding his transition around 2016, when he was 15. He began seeing Dr. Mariano Casto-Magana, a Pediatric Endocrinologist who worked at NYU Langone Hospital. Dr. Magana always scheduled our client’s appointments early in the morning, before anyone else came into the office, at 5 or 6 AM. He would not allow our client’s father into the examination room and made our client disrobe completely at every appointment. He then performed invasive and unnecessary examinations. As an adolescent who had never seen an endocrinologist, our client did not know that these examinations were not normal, and only found out when he spoke with other transgender individuals. He cancelled all future appointments with Dr. Magana once he realized the truth. Unfortunately, our client was not Dr. Magana’s only victim. He abused many other patients who were also transitioning. Hach and Rose is also suing NYU Langone for its negligence and failure in stopping this doctor’s crimes.

The effect of Dr. Magana’s abuse is permanent. Our client suffers severe emotional distress and continues to seek medical and psychological treatment to heal from the trauma. Dr. Magana’s actions cannot go unpunished, and Hach & Rose will hold NYU Langone accountable for their negligence. We will not rest until his crimes are acknowledged. Sexual abuse by a doctor is a serious crime. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse by a doctor, or your child has been abused by a doctor, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Hach & Rose at 646-685-8045 for a complimentary review of your case.


Protecting Your Children from Sexual Abuse in Summer Camps

Posted on Friday, July 23rd, 2021 at 8:55 pm    

It’s summer break, and millions of children across the country are enjoying their time in camp. We trust that our children will be safe during their summer activities, but the risk of sexual abuse is an unfortunate reality. Summer camps offer ample opportunity for predators. Camps are often staffed by inexperienced counselors whose backgrounds may not have been thoroughly investigated. Keep your children safe this summer by following these simple steps.

Vet the camp. Your first step to keeping your child safe is to do your research on the camp you choose. Check out reviews online and, if you know other families whose kids have attended, ask what they have to say about it. Before signing up your child, have a conversation with the camp director. Below are some questions you can ask to ascertain your child’s safety.

  • What is your process for background checks on employees? Do you include the sex offender’s registry?
  • Are your staff trained about child sexual abuse?
  • What is the reporting process when abuse has been discovered?
  • Are staff members ever allowed to be alone with a camper?

These questions should give you a good understanding of how seriously the camp takes allegations of abuse. If they don’t have clear and thorough responses to your questions, consider sending your children to a different camp. Just because they’ve never had a problem in the past doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in future. Every camp needs to be prepared in the event of abuse.

Educate your child. Having a frank conversation with your young child about body parts may seem daunting, but it could mean the difference between confusion and awareness if the worst ever happens. Tell your child what body parts are not appropriate for an adult to touch, and that if someone tries, they should report it to you (and/or a camp counselor) immediately. Let them know that keeping secrets about touching is never okay and that they will not get in trouble for reporting it.

Recognize the signs. Many parents do not know what signs to look out for when their child may have been abused. Below is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms that may indicate abuse has occurred. Most important, however, is open communication between you and your child. If you sense that something is off, trust your instincts and have a conversation about it as soon as possible. This is more difficult if your child is at a sleepaway camp, so make sure to stay in contact as frequently as you can.

  • Sudden, new, or frequent bed-wetting
  • Trouble walking or sitting
  • Strange behavior like being provocative or flirtatious, not wanting to get undressed, or suddenly avoiding someone without a reason
  • Severe nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Reluctance to go back to camp

Take immediate action. If abuse does occur, offer as much emotional support as your child requires. Sexual abuse affects every victim differently, so it’s hard to know how an individual will handle trauma. Be open and understanding no matter what their reaction may be. Assure your child that abuse is never, ever their fault. No matter how guilty they feel, or what their abuser said to convince them it was their fault, your child did nothing wrong. Finally, notify local authorities about the abuse as soon as possible. You can also report the incident to the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

Child abuse at a summer camp is not excusable and should have been prevented. If your child was abused at a summer camp, you deserve the chance to fight for their rights. Contact us at 646-685-8045 for a free and confidential review of your situation.


Facebook Plans Instagram for Kids; 44 Attorneys General Urge Against It

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2021 at 3:08 pm    

Facebook has long been under fire for not doing enough to protect children on its platforms. Although Instagram’s policy does not allow children under 13, many children still ignore this rule. Now, Facebook has decided that the solution to this problem is to create a version of Facebook for children only. Instead of focusing their efforts on stricter protections against children using Instagram, the company wishes to use children as a viable growth option, considering its popularity among young teens.

Child advocates are asking Facebook to abandon these plans due to the clear and present danger to children. In 2017 a report found that 42 percent of young adults between the ages of 12 to 20 had experienced cyberbullying on Instagram. Even more pressing is the risk of grooming and sexual exploitation. Figures from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) show a 31% increase in the number of images of child sexual abuse reported to them in 2020, with at least 13 million images hosted on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has historically refused to accept responsibility for consequences suffered by its users. Sex trafficking is rampant on both Facebook and Instagram. One 14-year-old victim was contacted by a man on Instagram who proceeded to rape her and advertise her as a prostitute on her Instagram profile. Even after she was rescued from the operation, her profile continued to be used to attract other young victims. The victim’s mother reported all of this to Facebook who did not respond to the incident.

Now, 44 attorneys general have written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to abandon his plans. “Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “This plan could place children directly in the paths of predators. There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids. We must continue to ensure the health and wellness of our next generation and beyond.”

Hopefully Facebook will heed the urging of child advocates and put a stop to these dangerous plans. If a child in your life was groomed or sexually trafficked on Facebook or Instagram, know that you have an opportunity to bring charges against this abuser. Contact the compassionate and skilled online sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. We are available 24/7 to take your call at 646-685-8045.


New York State Senate Passes Adult Survivors Act

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2021 at 8:39 pm    

On June 4, 2021 the New York State Senate passed the Adult Survivors Act (ASA). The ASA is a response to the outcry brought on by the New York Child Victims Act (CVA), which brought justice to those who were minors at the time of their abuse. Even if the statute of limitations had passed, they were offered a 1-year look back window to bring charges against their abuser. This 1-year window ended up being extended and was widely praised for the justice that it offered to victims. More than 6,000 survivors have used the CVA since it was signed into law. Soon, New Yorkers were calling out for the same justice to be offered for victims who were 18 or older at the time of their abuse. Now, those survivors will have their chance.

It has long been proven that survivors of sexual abuse do not always come forward immediately. The time it takes to process their trauma can take mere weeks for some, and years for others. By the time the victim has had time to face what has happened to them, they often find that the statute of limitations has passed. The CVA recognized this fact and offered another opportunity to former child victims, but the age limit restricted adult survivors that same chance. No matter whether the trauma happened as a child or an adult, it is a fact that trauma is not something that you can heal from in a predictable, linear way. A reluctance to come forward immediately is a sad truth of sexual trauma and should not bar victims from holding their abusers accountable for their crimes.

Sexual assault survivor and client of our firm, Gary Greenberg, has dedicated his life to advocating against child sexual abuse. He was a vocal advocate of the Child Victims Act and worked hard to push for its passage. In a press conference Gary eloquently said, “No money can take what happened and make it right, but what the lawsuit can do – what I hope it does – is wake society up that this is going on, that New York state has allowed this to go on for years and years.” We were proud to represent Gary when he brought his case forward under the CVA.

The ASA was sponsored in part by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman who said, “Adult survivors of serial sexual assaulters like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein have been shut out of our courthouses by inadequate statutes of limitations. That ends now. In 2019 we passed the Child Victims Act, which has helped more than 6,000 sexual assault survivors seek justice. The Adult Survivors Act extends that exact same opportunity to thousands more survivors, letting them hold their predators accountable in court. For far too long our justice system has failed survivors of sexual assault, the passage of the Adult Survivors act is a powerful step to fix that historic wrong.”

If you were a victim of sexual abuse and did not have the opportunity to bring charges against your abuser, contact the compassionate and skilled childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. We are available 24/7 to take your call at 646-685-8045.


Hach & Rose Pursues Justice Against Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2021 at 8:37 pm    

The New York Child Victims Act made a real difference in the lives of sexual abuse victims. The Act allows victims of sexual assault a window to bring a suit against their abusers, even if the events occurred many years ago. The attorneys at Hach & Rose are proud to assist survivors of sexual abuse in holding their abusers accountable. The firm has filed two abuse cases against the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle for crimes that occurred in the 1980s, one of many cases filed by Hach & Rose under the Child Victims Act.

Our client was only 5 when she first met Ron Braaten, the Youth Minister at Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. Her family were very active members of the church and were involved in many church sponsored events and programs. The first abuse occurred while our client was participating in a church performance in which she would play an angel in a choir. Braaten lured our client away from others by asking her if she wanted to see where the angel choir would perform. Once there, Braaten forced himself upon our client. This began a series of sexual assaults that would span more than 5 years. Braaten’s actions were not covert, and other staff members at the church should have been alarmed by his behavior. Yet no action was taken, and our client was forced to suffer years of trauma that will affect her forever.

Molestation is a serious crime that should never occur. Children should be able to trust youth directors, teachers, and clergy members, and know that they will not hurt them. The horror of these crimes is not reduced by the years that have passed, and Hach & Rose will hold the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle accountable for their negligence. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, you still have time to bring your abuser to justice. Contact at 646-685-8045 for a complimentary review of your case.


New York Archdiocese Has Financial Issues Following Lawsuits Filed Under the Child Victims Act; Victims of Others Speak Out

Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2021 at 9:30 am    

Since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law in February 2019, dioceses throughout the state received lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by priests and other members. Multiple dioceses were forced to file for bankruptcy due to the costs associated with handling and potentially compensating victims in hundreds of cases. Recently, one of the members of the New York archdiocese gave an update on their financial situation following these civil lawsuits.

He states that they’re facing challenges while handling the many lawsuits filed against them. In 2016, they set up an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for sexual abuse survivors. By accepting money from the fund, individuals agreed that they would not be entitled to compensation from a lawsuit down the road.

The influx of lawsuits and the impact of Covid-19 put the archdiocese in uncertain economic standing as they continue to assess their finances. They’re still receiving lawsuits for claims associated with childhood sexual abuse and are trying to reach settlements through their compensation program. As of December 2017, around 200 people had already received money for their losses from the New York archdiocese. Those settlements total over $40 million.

Rights Under the Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act allows sexual abuse survivors to pursue compensation through civil lawsuits and press criminal charges against their abusers despite the expiration of the statute of limitations. Typically, New York law requires filing a civil lawsuit within three years of the incident date, unless the victim was under 18 years old at the time. Once they turn 18, they would have three years from that date to initiate legal action. For criminal cases, the statute of limitations is five years from the abuse date.

Now, the Act allows anyone who suffered abuse when they were children to initiate their civil lawsuit until they turn 55 years old. Anyone pressing criminal charges for a felony offense has up until the age of 28. For misdemeanor sex crimes, survivors can pursue criminal charges until they turn 25. There is a one-year “lookback window” to pursue a case against the offender and the institution or organization involved in the abuse.

The original filing deadline for cases outside the usual statute of limitations was August 14, 2020. However, Covid-19 significantly impacted courthouses throughout New York, causing all to close temporarily. Judges were forced to put their cases on hold, and no one was allowed to file new lawsuits.

Governor Cuomo decided it was necessary to extend the lookback window to January 14, 2021. He wanted to ensure survivors of sex crimes would have enough time to seek legal representation, prepare their cases, and file before time ran out. 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic lasted far longer than anyone expected, prompting the Governor to push back the deadline again. The new legislation now gives anyone seeking financial compensation or criminal action against their abuser until August 14, 2021, to do so.

Whistleblower Exposes Alleged Sexual Abuse At A Buffalo Church

A former priest at a diocese in New York exposed an alleged cover-up of sexual misconduct. Along with other individuals, he brought to light the ongoing instances of sexual abuse occurring at the church. The whistleblower secretly recorded one of the bishops, releasing it to the public and disclosing activities of his co-workers. He was ultimately suspended for his actions. He claimed that he was the victim of sexual assault by a priest back in 2003 when he was in the seminary. He now leads a weekly mass via Zoom so survivors of sexual abuse can pray and discuss their experiences.

Lawsuit Filed Against Famous Musician

A lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court alleges a musician raped a minor girl in 1969. According to legal documents, he met her multiple times before the misconduct occurred. He took an interest in the young girl and began grooming her. The victim stated she viewed him as a paternal figure at the time. She ended up running away from home in Minnesota and meeting him at his hotel room in New York City, where he allegedly raped her. The next day, the musician bought her a ticket to go back home and asked her to leave.

In 1970, the musician pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor. He ended up serving only three months of his one- to three-year prison sentence for molesting a 14-year-old girl. Right before he left office, the then-President pardoned him for the offense in 1981. The recent lawsuit also names the defendant’s band at the time, claiming they should have known he posed a danger to children.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP

The New York City personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We advocate for our clients’ rights and fight for the justice they rightfully deserve. When you hire us, we will provide ongoing support and guidance as you’re navigating the complicated legal road.

We know the abuse you experienced as a child was traumatic. Even after the physical injuries heal, sexual abuse often leaves psychological and emotional scars that take much longer to recover from.

You have legal options for pursuing financial compensation from the abuser for their wrongdoings. Because of the Child Victims Act, you don’t have to worry about the statute of limitations prohibiting you from seeking civil or criminal action. You now have the opportunity to face your abuser in court and hold them accountable for the harm they caused.

So far, Hach & Rose, LLP has recovered over $400 million in insurance settlements and jury verdicts. We fight hard to ensure our clients receive dependable legal services and representation from the moment they step into our offices. We will remain by your side throughout each step of the process and treat you as a priority.

If you were the victim of childhood sexual abuse and want to learn about your options for holding your abuser liable, call us at 646-685-8045 today for a free consultation.


Seeking Justice for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse In New York

Posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2021 at 6:36 pm    

The Child Victims Act, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on February 14, 2019, allows sex abuse survivors to hold their abusers accountable for the injuries and emotional suffering they caused. This monumental piece of legislation provides a one-year lookback window for pursuing civil action regardless of how long ago the abuse took place. This has allowed thousands of survivors and families to file lawsuits and seek criminal charges against individuals for financial compensation and criminal penalties.

Typically, New York follows a strict statute of limitations for bringing legal action against another person. State law requires a victim to pursue criminal charges for sex crimes within five years of the incident. Filing a civil lawsuit means doing so within three years if you want to recover a monetary award for your losses. However, the Child Victims Act includes provisions to extend those deadlines. The extensions mean a person can:

    • File civil lawsuits until the victims turn 55 years old.
    • Press criminal charges for felony sex crimes until the victim reaches 28 years of age or pursue criminal charges for misdemeanor offenses until the victim turns 25.
    • Seek legal action against public and private institutions involved in the sexual abuse of children.
    • File lawsuits despite the expired statutory deadline for up to one year after the lookback window started.

The lookback window originally expired on August 14, 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused court proceedings to come to a screeching halt. They shut down temporarily to slow the spread of the virus, delaying lawsuits already in progress and preventing survivors from filing altogether. Governor Cuomo decided to sign new legislation granting additional time to pursue cases involving sexual abuse. The new deadline was pushed back to January 14, 2021.

Although the extended timeframe was helpful, many people lost their jobs because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment insurance claims were difficult to file, and some child sex abuse survivors wondered how they could afford legal fees when they’re barely able to make ends meet without a source of income. These circumstances prompted Governor Cuomo to sign another legislation pushing back the deadline yet again. Now, the lookback window doesn’t expire until August 14, 2021.

Recent Lawsuits Filed Under the Child Victims Act

A former counselor at a YMCA in New York is facing allegations of sex abuse. Legal documents claim that the counselor sexually abused two brothers during an after-school program from 2005 to 2007. They were between the ages of seven and eleven years old at the time the abuse took place. The lawsuit also names the local school district, an elementary school, and the YMCA as defendants.

According to the boys’ attorneys, other employers were aware of the ongoing abuse but did nothing to report or stop it. The filed lawsuit also claims that the former counselor was under minimal to no supervision, giving him access to the boys and allowing adequate time to groom them into trusting him before taking advantage. He is currently in prison, serving a twelve-year sentence.

Another lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act alleges that a former teacher and basketball coach at a high school in western New York sexually assaulted and raped one of his students. Court documents show the student, who was 14 years old when the incidents began, was the victim of sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape for two years. The teacher would give her special attention and pay her compliments during school, eventually leading to unwanted sexual contact.

The former basketball coach regularly took his victims to adult softball games sponsored by a local pizzeria. Individuals playing in those games were also teachers from the same school district. According to the lawsuit, multiple teachers preyed on female students while other teachers ignored the behavior and failed to report it to the authorities. The sex abuse victim is seeking punitive and compensatory damages for the psychological injuries and emotional distress she endured.

An organization in Poughkeepsie also received a lawsuit claiming a young boy experienced repeated sexual abuse from 2004 to 2008. The administrator allegedly groomed him for a while before eventually assaulting him. Court documents claim she invited him to her office at least once a week to participate in intercourse and mutual oral sex. She was already on the New York State Sex Offender Registry after serving an 18-month prison sentence for raping someone under 17 years old. The lawsuit accuses defendants of being negligent in employing, supervising, and retaining employees who sexually abused residents that were minors at the time of the incidents.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP for A Free Consultation

The New York City personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP have been representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse for 20 years. Our team has over 100 years of combined legal experience and has recovered more than $300 million in compensation for our clients. When you hire us, we can use our experience, knowledge, and resources to hold your abuser liable for their despicable actions. You can depend on us to go to battle for you and fight for the justice you deserve.

We will tirelessly work until we reach a favorable outcome in your case. You can expect transparent communication from the second you walk through our office doors until the end of the legal process. You will be our top priority as we’re seeking the financial compensation you’re owed for the suffering you were forced to endure. Customer service is of the utmost importance to us, and you will be able to reach us 24/7 no matter what.

Do not hesitate to contact a compassionate and dedicated New York City personal injury lawyer from Hach & Rose, LLP. We can meet you for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine the best legal options for achieving your legal goals. We will not rest until we hold your abuser accountable for the harm they caused.

Call us at 646-685-8045 right now if you suffered injuries from childhood sexual abuse and want the opportunity to seek the monetary award you rightfully deserve.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP right now at 646-685-8045 for a FREE, discreet consultation
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