NY Child Abuse Victims Empowered to Seek Justice During Pandemic

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 at 6:30 pm    

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Child Victims Act into law on February 14, 2019, empowering sexual abuse survivors to hold their abusers accountable.

Governor Cuomo said this legislation extending the statute of limitations provides the opportunity to hold sexual offenders accountable and get them off the streets.

There’s a five-year criminal statute of limitations under current New York law and a three-year civil statute of limitations. However, with the Child Victims Act’s passage, survivors can file civil and criminal lawsuits well past the deadlines, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

This legislation includes the following:

  • One-year lookback window to pursue previous claims that exceeded the current statute of limitations
  • File a civil lawsuit until the age of 55 for claims that haven’t exceeded the statute of limitations
  • File civil claims against public and private organizations involved in allegations of sexual abuse
  • Pursue felony charges against an offender until the victim turns 28 years old
  • Pursue misdemeanor charges against an abuser until the victim turns 25 years old

The original one-year lookback window meant survivors could seek legal action until August 14, 2020. Unfortunately, most people were unaware of this new law, and little was done to get the word out.

Also, many people could not afford to hire a lawyer because of the expensive legal fees. Others weren’t ready to speak up about what happened and face their abusers. Although thousands of lawsuits were filed in the first few months, many other survivors are still waiting for justice.

COVID-19 Prompts First Extension of the Lookback Window

By April 2020, the pandemic had shut down most of the country. Each state issued its own stay-at-home or safer-at-home order requiring residents to go into public places only when necessary. It also affected the court system, which effectively put a hold on all child sexual abuse cases. Without access to the courts, no one could move forward with their lawsuits.

Governor Cuomo wanted sexual abuse survivors to have their days in court and pursue the justice they deserve. On May 8, 2020, he signed legislation to extend the one-year lookback window to January 14, 2021. This gave everyone more time to seek legal representation and prepare their cases for when the courts reopen. Cuomo said it would be unfair for these survivors to continue to suffer while their abusers avoid the consequences of their actions.

Another Extension to the Lookback Window Under the Child Victims Act

Although some states reopened businesses after a month or two of lockdown, there were still restrictions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus. When it became clear that COVID-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, Governor Cuomo decided to extend the lookback window again.

This time, he announced that sexual abuse survivors would have until August 14, 2021, to pursue lawsuits. This gives extra time to those who don’t feel safe being in public places or can’t afford a lawyer after losing their jobs. It also provides time for anyone who hasn’t heard of the new law to have a chance to hold their abusers accountable for the harm they caused.

Buffalo Diocese Faces Lawsuit for Covering Up Sex Abuse

On November 23, New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against two former leaders of the Diocese of Buffalo: Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz.

The 218-page lawsuit claims that the diocese covered up sexual abuse accusations for two decades and failed to act on allegations against multiple priests.

The attorney general wants to ensure that Grosz and Malone are banned from working in future leadership roles with charitable organizations. After Bishop Malone resigned in 2019, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger took over. He is also included in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also includes the following allegations:

  • Lack of proper records involving priests accused of sexual abuse
  • Failure to maintain contact with the offenders, including those that moved to other dioceses or ministries
  • Payment of monthly stipends and health insurance to “unassignable” priests
  • Failure to investigate and refer the accused to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for removal from the diocese
  • Misleading the public with inaccurate or false statements about how accusations of abuse were handled

According to legal documents, this lawsuit’s goal is to establish mandatory reporting of sexual abuse allegations to the attorney general for five years, create an independent review of how the diocese responds to sexual abuse allegations, and mandate external oversight of compliance remedial plans.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP for Help with Your Case

If you or your loved one are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, our compassionate and highly skilled legal team will advocate effectively for your rights and fight for justice. We understand the trauma you can carry after suffering childhood sexual abuse; it can cause emotional and mental pain that lasts a lifetime. No one should ever feel afraid to speak out about what happened to them.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have more than 30 years of experience pursuing complex cases and will work hard to reach a positive outcome. We want to help you face your abuser and hold them accountable for what they have done. We will provide you with the compassion, support, and guidance you need to get through this. You can depend on us to stay by your side throughout your case.

Our team of dedicated attorneys wants you to begin healing and moving forward with your life. You were wronged by someone and deserve the opportunity to recover financial compensation, as well as see your abuser face legal ramifications for the crime they committed.

We want to ensure this doesn’t happen again to anyone else. Call us at (212) 779-0057 today to schedule your free consultation.

Interview with Survivor Patrice Griffin

Posted on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 at 7:19 pm    

We sat down with Patrice Griffin, founder of Patrice’s Kids, a nonprofit that seeks to protect children and educate adults on the prevention of child abuse, to learn about her journey from abuse victim to activist.

When did you decide to create Patrice’s Kids? Was there one specific moment that made you realize this is what you wanted to do?

I first had the idea back in 2018. When I went through my abuse and the years of struggle that came after, I knew I wanted to do something to help children like me. I just wasn’t sure how I would do it, but when I started thinking about a nonprofit, it felt right to me. I never want another child to go through what I went through. My goal is to help in any way I can to prevent child abuse and support children in our community.

You not only overcame child sexual abuse, you also overcame drug addiction, homelessness, and suicidal ideation. Can you tell us about that journey?

After my abuse, I was accepted into a rehab program in upstate New York that helped adolescents and young adults like myself. That program helped me get clean, and I was able to beat my addiction. Unfortunately, I still didn’t have anywhere else to go. After I left the rehab program, I was homeless in NYC for about two years. I lived in the train station. These were all dark times for me, feeling like absolutely no one in the world cared about me. There were times when I wanted to die, but to be honest, most of us don’t want to die. All you really want is an end to the pain. Our brain can’t hold all the stress, anxiety, and racing thoughts, and you just want an out, any out.

Through the grace of a higher power, one day a police officer woke me up from where I was sleeping in the station. I was worried he was going to arrest me, but he was standing there with a social worker. They asked me if I was homeless and if I needed help, and I said yes. They took me to breakfast, and I told them about my situation. They were able to get me into programs that got me housing and mental health counseling.

It’s not uncommon for victims of child sexual abuse to struggle with drugs, suicide, and housing. Why do you think that is?

Victims of sexual abuse feel alone, and like no one can help them. The world becomes so overwhelming when you’re trying to deal with such a huge issue as an adolescent. Drugs provide a release, and for a moment you forget your problems. But the slide happens so fast. You start needing more and more moments to cope, and before you know it you lose your job, your housing, your support system. You fall, and it feels like there’s no one to catch you.

Your first book was just released, The Unconscious Community. Tell us about your book and why you were inspired to share your story.

As a victim I felt like I was suffering by myself. I truly thought that there was no one in the world who could understand what I was going through. As an adult who has now gone through that journey of healing, I want other victims just like me to know that they aren’t alone. I know exactly what they’re going through. And I want them to know that just because you’re going through the worst time of your life right now it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. The road to healing is a lifelong process, and it won’t be easy, but it is possible. I want everyone to know that there’s hope and there are people out there who care about them.

You publicly campaigned for New York to pass the Child Victims Act, which allows adult victims who were abused as children to bring charges against their abusers, even if the events occurred many years ago. Tell us about that.

Gary Greenberg is a politician that spearheaded the Act, and when I heard about the campaign, I knew I wanted to be involved. I ran a lot of online campaigns, and I spoke with survivors about their stories, and I was asked by survivors Dave Ohlmuller and Joe Capozzi to be in their documentary, “A Peloton of One.” Adult survivors of child abuse not only have to deal with the trauma of what they go through, but also knowing that the statute of limitations prevents them from ever seeking justice for those crimes. The CVA changes all of this and gives us a voice. This isn’t the end, but it’s a start. Just having this avenue is a glimmer of hope for all survivors.

I think that for most of us who worked on getting the CVA passed, the next step is removing the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. You’ll never forget what happened to you. Your mind may block it out in order to cope, but you’ll never truly forget that fear and horror. A victim should never be prevented from seeking justice.

Many victims of child sexual abuse do not come forward for many years. Tell us why you think that happens.

For myself, and for many of the survivors that I’ve spoken with over the years, the embarrassment and shame is overwhelming. What happened to us shouldn’t happen to anyone, but often when we come forward, we’re faced with “are you sure? Do you just want to get money out of them? Are you lying? Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” All of these questions help no one, and they just revictimize us. We go through that trauma all over again because no one believes us. Families often brush the abuse under the rug, or they blame us. In some ways it’s worse for boys, because if it was a male offender they suffer through questions about their sexuality, and if it was a female offender, then they get told that’s every boy’s dream and they should be happy about it. I have personally been called a liar and have been accused of just wanting to get a check. These memories are physically painful for all survivors and bringing up that pain to tell someone what happened is traumatic, and you can imagine why no one would want to bring up those memories again.

Patrice’s Kids collects duffel bags filled with necessary items like shoes, clothing, and school supplies and distributes them to children in need. Tell us about how it feels to give these items directly to kids in need and how it impacts the community.

It really brings me full circle, because I remember the times when I couldn’t afford to buy a pair of shoes for myself, and now I’m distributing shoes and other supplies to children in need. It’s an amazing feeling. Back when I was living in the train station, I didn’t have a coat and a woman passing by was worried about me. She told me to stay there, and she came back in a few minutes holding a coat for me. I promised myself that one day I would be the person giving back to people in need. Doing this service alleviates some stress for the community and for nonprofits who are providing other services. It takes that burden off them so they can focus on other needs.

Perhaps your greatest impact is the courses you offer which train adults to recognize the warning signs of grooming and sexual abuse. Tell us how you developed the course and its importance.

One of the only avenues for preventing child abuse is empowering adults to know what signs to look for and alerting authorities, without second guessing themselves about whether it’s their place to do so. When I spoke to people in the community, I started to hear a lot of the same barriers. They would tell me they don’t know what age to start talking to their kids about inappropriate touching, they don’t have the money to take a training, they didn’t know where to start. So I decided I could solve this problem by providing these courses myself. I provide a certified trainer who offers online training courses, all free of cost to anyone who wants to take them. These courses teach what signs to look for, what grooming is, what the effects of child sex abuse are, and more. The goal is always to bring awareness to this issue and stop pretending that abuse doesn’t happen. Ignoring the issues won’t solve anything. Never second guess yourself – if you think something is wrong, trust your instincts.

I understand you’re running a toy drive collection for the holidays. Can you tell us more about the toy drive and where people can donate?

This is my third year hosting a toy drive, and it’s a little different because of Covid of course. So this year I decided to work with CASA Hope, which is a foster care agency out of Houston. Any proceeds I get from the sale of my book will go to buying toys and supplies for these children in foster care. Every child deserves to have a special day on Christmas and wake up to presents. If anyone is interested in participating, they can make a donation on my website.

Former Paperboys Seek Justice from Newspaper for Alleged Sexual Abuse

Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2020 at 5:52 pm    

Decades after the fact, two men are taking a stand against their former employer for failing to protect them against alleged abuse by their supervisor. Ballard Tackett, 47, and Kelby Ash, 49, worked as paperboys for the Rochester-based Democrat & Chronicle (D&C) and alleged repeated molestation between 1982 and 1985 by Jack I. Lazeroff, who oversaw their paper routes. Tackett’s and Ash’s ages ranged from 11 to 13 years during this period of time. They filed their lawsuit on September 25, 2020.

Other former D&C paperboys accused Lazeroff of sexual abuse in two separate claims filed in October 2019 and February 2020 against the newspaper and its parent company Gannet Co., Inc. All of the complaints assert that Lazeroff was hired by the Democrat & Chronicle, even though he had been fired from his previous position at a Rochester bank for conduct involving abuse of boys who spent time at the bank applying for student loans.

According to Tacket and Ash’s complaint, Lazeroff’s misbehavior was common knowledge among D&C staff, yet the newspaper failed to protect the boys from being abused. The filing states, “The D&C negligently hired Lazeroff then failed to properly supervise him … permitted Lazeroff unfettered and unsupervised access to … young children, failed to address sexual abuse that was occurring in plain sight, and exposed Plaintiffs to danger.”

Evidently, even Lazeroff’s behavior in public was questionable and apparent, and it led to his arrest in 1987 for a disorderly conduct charge. A donut shop employee witnessed Lazeroff in the shop “almost daily with a young paperboy” and engaging in inappropriate touching. Three D&C paperboys were identified in the police report as who Lazeroff had taken to the donut shop, but how the case was resolved is unclear. In 1988, Lazeroff was arrested again and “charged with sexual abuse in the second degree.” Reportedly, he managed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and escaped serving any jail time.

Lazeroff was finally fired from the D&C for “messing with a paperboy,” according to several former employees who made statements for the complaints against him. The D&C covered the story about the first lawsuits concerning Lazeroff but stated that the complaints did not contain any direct evidence that could substantiate the reason why Lazeroff was terminated.

According to another D&C story, the company could not determine whether any of Lazeroff’s supervisors were aware of or took action on the allegations of his misconduct. They also could not locate records that detail the exact dates that Lazeroff worked for the D&C. Lazeroff died in 2003.

Victims Rights Law Opens Door to Civil Suits

Thanks to the Child Victims Act, people like Mr. Tackett and Mr. Ash have an opportunity to take legal action long after a crime happens. This New York law went into effect in August of 2019 and permits childhood abuse victims to pursue civil claims even after the state’s usual statute of limitations has expired. Sexual abuse survivors have until they are 55 years old to file civil suits against their offenders and the institutions that may have turned a blind eye to the behavior.

The legislation initially allowed a one-year window of time ending August 14, 2020, for civil cases that allege child sexual abuse to be filed no matter how long ago it took place. That window has since been extended until August 2021.

Because of the severe trauma associated with childhood sexual abuse, it often takes adult survivors many years to gain the fortitude necessary to openly confront their abusers. Statutes of limitations that don’t allow for this time have denied victims the choice of bringing a civil lawsuit, and this is why proponents fought for the Child Victims Act.

Along with the opportunity for civil cases, the Child Victims Act also extended the time period for criminal charges of middle and lower-level child sex abuse felonies. Previously, these charges could only be brought until the victim reached the age of 23, but now the age is 28.

Civil suits can be an advantageous option for abuse survivors. The government maintains most of the power in criminal cases, and the defendant is accountable to the state instead of the victim, with the focus being on punishment. The defendant is presumed innocent, and the burden to prove otherwise is substantial.

With civil lawsuits, the survivor initiates the case, and the defendant is meant to be held accountable to the survivor. There is no presumption of innocence, and there is a lesser burden of proof. Since civil cases concentrate on compensating the survivor for the harm suffered, the survivor can receive money for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, therapy expenses, and psychological anguish.

Hach & Rose, LLP Stands With Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

No child should ever experience the horror of sexual abuse, but it happens far more than many people realize. Predators take advantage of children in all kinds of situations, and children can be at risk anywhere, not just in the scenarios that have been well-publicized. Sexual abuse robs children of their childhoods and leaves them with haunting memories and feelings that they can’t understand, and adult survivors still feel the pain and effects of their abuse.

Survivors who seek justice by way of a civil case against an abuser or other negligent parties can gain restitution and have the means to battle back against something that had left them feeling defenseless. If you or a loved one have been affected by childhood sexual abuse, even if it took place in the past, you may still be able to pursue legal action under New York’s Child Victims Act.

Hach & Rose, LLP has a team of qualified and experienced lawyers who fight for childhood sexual abuse survivors so that they can receive the justice and compensation they deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our compassionate childhood sexual abuse attorneys, please call (212) 779-0057 or fill out our online contact form.

Child Victims Act Abuse Claims Prompt Bankruptcy Filing for Catholic Diocese

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2020 at 5:00 pm    

The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island filed for bankruptcy in federal court on October 1, 2020. Bishop John O. Barres stated that for various reasons, including the burden of litigation expenses from the more than 200 lawsuits stemming from the Child Victims Act, the diocese “was not going to be able to carry out its spiritual, charitable and educational missions if it were to continue to shoulder the increasingly heavy burden of litigation expenses associated with these cases.” Barres also explained that the ministries of the dioceses would go on and that employee wages and benefit programs would not be affected. Since schools and parishes are separate legal entities, they are expected to operate as normal.

When New York’s Child Victims Act took effect in August of 2019, it temporarily extended the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file claims against their abusers and the institutions they represented, allowing for a flood of sexual abuse allegations. The Diocese of Rockville Centre tried to fight the law by arguing it was unconstitutional, but a state appeals court would not halt the lawsuits. The dioceses’ bankruptcy filing disclosed an estimate of up to $500 million in liabilities from lawsuits.

The coronavirus pandemic also added to the financial problems of the diocese, which serves about 1.4 million Catholics. Donations that it would typically receive on Sundays were slashed when Mass services were suspended or restricted. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing stated that about 40 percent of the dioceses’ annual revenue is gained through offerings from Mass attendees at its parishes.

Three other of New York’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses had also filed for bankruptcy previously as a result of the Child Victims Act. The Diocese of Rochester was the first, followed by the Diocese of Syracuse and the Diocese of Buffalo. Since the early 2000s, about two dozen dioceses or archdioceses throughout the United States have pursued bankruptcy protection while dealing with sexual abuse lawsuits.

Strategy of Filing for Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is a tactic used by other organizations that have been affected by the Child Victims Act and similar laws, such as the Boy Scouts of America. Bankruptcy will allow the Diocese of Rockville Centre to survive financially and work out the lawsuits in an orderly manner. Documentation of all of its assets and liabilities will be provided to the bankruptcy court, so it can decide how the lawsuits will be settled.

In a statement from Bishop Barres, he declared that the diocese believed that Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would be a more just method to address the cases. “Our goal is to make sure that all clergy sexual abuse survivors, and not just a few who were first to file lawsuits, are afforded just and equitable compensation,” he said.

A Pennsylvania State University law professor, Marie T. Reilly, who has studied Catholic organization bankruptcies, said, “The whole goal of the diocese is to open a new chapter in its financial life, free of Child Victims Act claims.”

In a pending lawsuit, the diocese had previously sued its insurance companies to make certain they would pay survivors. Bankruptcy may motivate the insurance carriers to start negotiations with survivors and end up saving the diocese a considerable amount of money.

An attorney who has represented plaintiffs in bankruptcy cases of other Catholic organizations believes that bankruptcy proceedings are often used to deny jury trials and protect defendants from having to share private documents through discovery that would publically display their practices.

What Happens to Current Lawsuits?

Claims that have already been or will be brought against the diocese may be affected by the bankruptcy declaration. Any ongoing lawsuits will most likely be frozen and moved under the supervision of bankruptcy court. This means that current and future claimants will not have their cases litigated in court. Instead, they become creditors who are eligible for a portion of a settlement fund, and some plaintiffs could receive less compensation than a civil trial may have awarded. Other plaintiffs whose cases were moving more slowly through the system may receive more than they would from a civil court. Although survivors will lose their day in court to speak out, all viable claims will be paid.

Before the Child Victims Act existed, the Diocese of Rockville Centre had created a fund called the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation program to provide settlements to victims of clergy abuse whose cases could no longer be pursued legally. The diocese has already paid approximately $62 million to settle about 350 of these cases. A lawyer who represents a client who had signed a settlement through the program in the week before the bankruptcy filing said the payment may now be delayed.

The parishes and schools under the Diocese of Rockville Centre are not included in the bankruptcy filing, so lawsuits against them can continue separately. Once there are resolutions for the diocese claims, it is possible that cases against the parishes and schools could also be resolved, but bankruptcy does put them at a higher risk.

It is anticipated that the bankruptcy proceedings will last from 18 months to two years.

Getting Legal Help for a Childhood Sexual Abuse Claim

If you or someone you love experienced childhood sexual abuse, you have the right to pursue a civil case. Even if the abuse took place a long time ago, there is a window of opportunity until August 2021 to file a claim. Coming forward as a childhood sexual abuse survivor takes a great deal of courage, and you deserve to be supported and guided throughout the entire legal process.

Hach & Rose, LLP is here to do just that. We are determined advocates for survivors of sexual abuse, and we will work tenaciously to hold the negligent parties accountable. Our team will listen to you with compassion and offer sound legal advice and exceptional representation. We’ll help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to schedule a free and completely confidential case evaluation. Contact a religious institution sexual abuse lawyer – we’re ready to help. You can reach us by phone at (212) 779-0057 or by contacting us online.

Lawsuits Pile Up Against Westchester Youth Home, The Children’s Village

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 at 9:58 pm    

The Children’s Village has made headlines in the papers recently as victims speak out against the abuse they suffered. 12 plaintiffs have come forward so far, and Hach & Rose, LLP is proud to represent two of these victims. No one should have their innocence stolen from them as children.

Located in White Plains, the 501c3 has been in operation since 1851 serving the community in various capacities that have evolved over the years. Today, their mission is to “work in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.” The organization removes children from abusive homes and aims to heal their traumas by caring for them on location at their facility in Westchester. Unfortunately, the abuse only continued when children arrived at the Village, and for many it caused more harm than good.

Both of our clients were placed under the custody of The Children’s Village and assigned to live in cottages on the premises. Each cottage held a number of children that were under the care of The Children’s Village, and the cottages were under supervision by Village staff members. While living there, both of our clients were abused by the supervisors in charge of their cottages. One client was groomed with gifts, special privileges, and outings to gain our client’s trust. The supervisors committed the abuse at night, while the children were sleeping, and relied on fear and shame to keep their victims quiet. The victims will suffer trauma for the rest of their lives.

If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse at The Children’s Village, we urge you to contact our firm now. You have stayed silent for so long, but you deserve justice and you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Even though the incidents may have occurred many years ago, under the Child Victim’s Act you have until August 14, 2021 to file. Contact our team today at Hach & Rose, LLP for your free and confidential case review.

Sex Abuse Survivors Have a Second Chance to Hold their Abusers Accountable

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 at 3:00 pm    

After spending thirteen years advocating for child sex abuse victims, lawmakers finally saw their hard work pay off. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019. This law gives survivors the opportunity to file civil lawsuits against their abusers up until they turn 55 years old. The previous statute of limitations required survivors to file before reaching the age of 23. Additionally, victims are now permitted to seek felony charges until they turn 28 years old.

The Act also issued a look-back window, giving victims a year to pursue legal action even if the statute of limitations already lapsed. Despite when the sexual abuse occurred, individuals who wanted to sue their abuser had until August 14, 2020, to do so. This provided them the opportunity to find a lawyer and have enough time to build a successful case. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic threw them a curveball, and the whole country had to shut down.

The First Extension to the Child Victims Act Deadline

When coronavirus showed up in the United States, it wasn’t clear how it would affect the economy. Business continued to run, and no one thought twice about heading out of their homes to proceed with their normal schedules. However, two months after the first confirmed case, states began issuing stay at home orders to reduce the spread of the virus. No one was allowed to go anywhere unless it was for an essential reason. In New York, the stay at home order went into effect on March 22, 2020.

During this time, millions of people lost their jobs and struggled to file unemployment claims. The court system put a hold on various lawsuits and wasn’t accepting any new ones under the Child Victims Act. To ensure child sex abuse survivors didn’t lose the opportunity to file lawsuits, Governor Cuomo signed a bill to extend the look-back window. The new deadline was scheduled for January 14, 2021.

Sex Abuse Survivors Have Additional Time to Pursue Legal Action

Although much of the country lifted their stay at home orders and people have resumed their usual routines, the pandemic is still very much a presence in everyone’s lives. COVID-19 cases are still increasing in many areas, and there are restrictions in place to reduce the spread of the virus. As of October 19, a total of 40 million people had tested positive, and there were over 1.1 million deaths.

Since it was clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to end any time soon, Governor Cuomo decided to extend the deadline yet again. The legislation is allowing child sex abuse victims to file claims until August 14, 2021. Much of the country is struggling to find work and can’t afford their daily expenses. With the second deadline extension, people have more time to start earning income again and figuring out how to pay for legal representation.

Thousands of Lawsuits Pending Under the Child Victims Act

Since August 2019, over 720 lawsuits were filed in Western New York under the Child Victims Act, with around 3,800 being filed throughout the state. Most of them are against teachers, Catholic priests, and scout leaders. Some involve law enforcement, family members, and doctors.

In the last two weeks alone, there have been lawsuits filed against Amherst Youth Hockey, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, and Big Brothers and Sisters of Niagara, Erie, and the Southern Tier.

Most notably, the Buffalo Diocese had to file for bankruptcy in February after receiving over 264 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. Other dioceses in the state were named as defendants, but new lawsuits have stopped because they also had to file for bankruptcy protection.

The Buffalo News analyzed other lawsuits under the Child Victims Act in Western New York, and they discovered the following:

  • At least one dozen lawsuits against the Buffalo City School District
  • Over 41 lawsuits against Kenmore-Tonawanda School District
  • Around 12 lawsuits against scout leader Robert Eberhardt
  • At least 20 lawsuits against Catholic priest Rev. Donald Becker
  • More than 35 lawsuits against retired Kenmore-Tonawanda teacher Arthur Werner

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP for Assistance Holding Your Abuser Accountable

We understand the trauma you’ve experienced. Child sexual abuse is something that can impact the rest of your life. Although physical scars heal, emotional scars can linger for decades. Many survivors end up with depression, anxiety, and other psychological injuries. It’s hard to move forward and live a normal life.

When you hire us, we’ll fight hard for the justice and compensation you deserve. The Child Victims Act allows you to face your abuser and speak out about what happened. Don’t let them get away with what they did to you any longer. It’s your right to pursue legal action and ensure they suffer the consequences of their actions.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have a legal team with more than 100 years of combined experience. Our attorneys, paralegals, and support staff will work hard to resolve your case and reach a favorable outcome efficiently. It’s our goal to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve. You can depend on us to remain by your side in the fight for justice.

We offer a free consultation to all prospective clients. There’s no risk for you to schedule an appointment and discuss your case with one of our attorneys. We’re happy to review all the details you provide and determine the available legal options.

We know you’re already feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of pursuing a legal case. You might worry about the additional expenses and don’t know if you can afford legal representation. That’s why we take all cases on contingency. That means there are no upfront fees or costs. We won’t charge you unless we’re able to recover compensation. If we lose your case, you won’t have to pay us.

If you were the victim of child sexual abuse, the compassionate and skilled childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP can help. Call us immediately at (212) 779-0057. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.

New York Child Victims Act – Giving Hope to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 at 1:14 am    

On February 14, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act as part of his Justice Agenda. It allows those who were sexually abused as children to pursue legal action despite when the abuse occurred and whether the statute of limitations expired. This law provides victims the opportunity to hold their abuser accountable and recover the financial compensation they deserve for their suffering.

Under the Child Victims Act, survivors and families of sexual abuse can pursue civil and criminal charges for the abuse they endured, even if it happened decades ago. Under normal circumstances, the state’s statute of limitations only allows the filing of a civil or criminal lawsuit until the victim turns 23 years old. However, the passage of this Act provides the following:

  • Allows survivors to file a civil lawsuit until they turn 55 years old and a criminal lawsuit until they reach the age of 28;
  • Provides a look-back window to pursue legal action despite the statute of limitations having lapsed;
  • Increases the amount of time to seek criminal charges;
  • Eliminates the requirement to file a notice of claim if the victim was a minor;
  • Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to communicate these regulations for prompt decisions regarding revived civil and criminal actions.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Child Victims Act Look-Back Window

Under the original legislation, the Child Victims Act provided a look-back window so victims could file their claims until August 14, 2020. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the country and putting legal cases on hold, Governor Cuomo decided to extend the look-back window until January 14, 2021. This gave child sex abuse survivors an additional five months to file their lawsuits.

The decision was the result of most businesses, including the court system, closing to prevent the spread of the virus. With a decrease in legal services, individuals who suffered from abuse when they were younger lost months of precious time to prepare their cases. Cuomo didn’t want them to encounter roadblocks while bringing their abusers to justice.

Another Extension to the Previous Look-Back Window

As of July 20, 2020, New York confirmed a statewide total of 407,326 positive cases of coronavirus, with a total of 25,056 deaths. Due to the consistent increase in numbers since the pandemic first started, Governor Cuomo signed another bill giving child sex abuse survivors until August 14, 2021, to file their lawsuits. Lawmakers believed this was a necessary move given the impact of the virus on the legal system. Most courthouses put a hold on cases already filed and weren’t accepting new ones.

With another extension, survivors and their families could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they wouldn’t run out of time. This was especially good news for individuals who couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer at the time. A lot of people lost their jobs and were struggling with the unemployment website. At the time Cuomo approved the new deadline, New York unemployment claims increased to 1.1 million, and many people who previously applied for benefits still hadn’t seen a check.

New York Dioceses at the Center of Many Claims

One of the most publicized lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act was centered around the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Since 2019, they have received over 200 lawsuits with allegations of sexual abuse by multiple clergy members. Due to the financial burden of litigating various cases at once, they made the decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2020.

This is currently the largest Roman Catholic diocese in New York to declare bankruptcy since the Child Victims Act passed. The decision to pursue bankruptcy was made to determine the amount of insurance coverage and assets available to compensate those who filed lawsuits. Although most cases are still pending under the Act, the diocese set up their own independent compensation program, where over 350 survivors received a total of $62 million in compensation.

The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese is also under fire for allegations of sexual abuse by a former priest. Reverend Cabell B. Marbury worked for 50 years at Cardinal McCloskey Memorial High School and Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, New York. Even after retiring in 2009, he continued to volunteer as a chaplain and school board member.

Marbury was named in various claims beginning in 1993, but the cases never went anywhere. Since the passage of the Child Victims Act, he’s been named in multiple lawsuits by victims who claimed he sexually abused them during his career. Although Marbury died in 2014, the Diocesan Review Board hired an independent investigator in February 2020 to look into all past and new allegations and decided to add him to the diocese’s official sex offenders list.

Hach & Rose, LLP Will Help You in Your Fight for Justice

Our New York personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience representing victims of child sex abuse. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to hold abusers accountable for their actions. You’ve suffered enough and deserve the opportunity to put this traumatic experience behind you. You can depend on us to remain by your side and recover the maximum financial compensation you need to move forward with your life.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have a dedicated legal team that will work diligently to reach a favorable outcome in your case. You won’t be alone in this fight for justice. We’ll be here to provide you with support and guidance. Our New York personal injury attorneys are available 24/7. You can speak to us whenever you need us the most. We’ll be sure to walk you through the legal process so you know what to expect and keep you updated on the progress of your case.

We will work to hold the abuser responsible for the harm they caused. If you want to find out more about our legal services or how we can help you file a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act, call us today at (212) 779-0057. We’ll be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.

Hach & Rose, LLP Seeks Justice for Sexual Abuse Victim at Hyde Park Baptist Church

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2020 at 3:06 pm    

Child victims of sexual abuse will spend the rest of their lives coping with the abuse they survived. Even admitting what happened to them, let alone having the strength to report it, is extremely difficult. Hach & Rose, LLP is honored to fight on behalf of victims to help them get the justice they deserve.

Sexual abuse is not a market corned by the Catholic Church.  Our client, our client, was only 15 when her nightmare began in 2000. A parishioner at Hyde Park Baptist Church, our client expected her time at church to be educational and spiritually fulfilling. Instead, Shielagh was cornered and repeatedly molested by former senior pastor. During one of these horrific attacks, another church employee even walked in on the abuse. Unfortunately, the witness just turned away rather than intervene on her behalf.

Now an adult, our client has found the courage to file charges under the Child Victims Act. The act allows victims who suffered abuse as children to seek justice against their abusers, that was denied to them all those years before because of stigma, lack of action by the police, or utter denial that the acts occurred. Hach & Rose, LLP is seeking both punitive and compensatory damages on behalf of our client. The filing of this lawsuit was simply a step in our client’s journey toward healing.

If you, or a loved one, suffered sexual abuse at the Hyde Park Baptist Church, contact our firm now.  It is time to start your healing process. Under the Child Victims Act, you no longer have to suffer in silence. But don’t delay – charges must be filed before August 14, 2021. Let the New York sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP shoulder the weight of your incident while you focus on healing. Contact our team today at (212) 779-0057 for your free and confidential case review.

Second Chance for Victims of Child Sex Abuse Upheld

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2020 at 2:22 am    

Usually, in order to pursue legal action against another party, there are statutes of limitations victims must follow. In New York, these strict deadlines apply to civil lawsuits against sex abusers. Our legislators recognized and remedied an important problem with this system.

Unfortunately, those deadlines don’t allow child sex abuse victims to seek accountability years or decades later. Under the Child Victims Act, survivors have an extended window to sue their abuser in the civil court system for compensation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo first signed the law in January 2019, giving child sex abuse victims a full year to file a lawsuit, regardless of the statute of limitations. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, he signed legislation to push back the deadline to January 2021. He recently signed another extension that allows survivors of child sex abuse to pursue legal action until August 14, 2021.

Even better, the courts have upheld victims’ right to seek compensation from their abusers. If you were abused as a child, you have time to decide if legal action is right for you.

What Is the Child Victims Act?

The Child Victims Act allows victims to seek civil action against their abusers for crimes against them as minors. Even if the statute of limitations passed, you could hold individuals and institutions responsible for their involvement in the sexual abuse you suffered as a child.

Under this act:

  • The amount of time to hold abusers accountable for their criminal acts increases;
  • Victims can file a civil lawsuit for child sex abuse until they turn 55 years old;
  • There’s a lookback window to begin legal action against a sex abuser for the crimes they committed regardless of the statute of limitations;
  • It’s not a requirement to file a Notice of Claim for any sexual offenses an adult committed against a minor;
  • The Office of Court Administration can implement the rules and regulations to adjudicate revived actions promptly;
  • There’s an extended statute of limitations for felony sex crimes until the victim turns 28 years old.

The effects of child sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Survivors may spend decades finding the support they need to trust anyone again.

For many, even admitting what they went through is difficult. It could take a lifetime to feel ready, and by then, it could be too late. It’s not. The Child Victims Act gives your time to find a lawyer, build a case, and bring your abuser to court.

New York Diocese Claims the Act is Unconstitutional

According to Newsday, the Diocese of Rockville Centre filed a lawsuit claiming the Child Victims Act violates their rights to due process under the state’s constitution.

According to a spokesman for the diocese, plaintiffs should have pursued legal action within the statutes of limitations for sex crimes. Under the act, child sex abuse victims now have the opportunity to file civil lawsuits far past the usual deadlines.

In May 2020, a judge rejected their lawsuit and ruled that the act does not violate any rights to due process. The diocese set up an independent reconciliation and compensation program to provide fair compensation to sex abuse victims. Since August 2019, 370 people have filed claims with the program, and 277 claimants received a combined $50 million in financial settlements.

The diocese is currently trying to navigate bankruptcy proceedings. They asked that the federal court cease all sex abuse cases against members of the clergy during this period. They said it’s a necessary request because of litigation and appeals costs. In a victory for victim’s rights advocates, the Nassau County Supreme Court denied their request.

Unfortunately, if the diocese does file for bankruptcy, it may prevent survivors from getting their day in court. According to Buffalo News, one abuse survivor, Kevin Koscielniak, is attempting to change bankruptcy laws. He doesn’t think non-profit organizations should have the right to use federal bankruptcy procedures. He also believes lawmakers should get dispense with the criminal statute of limitations entirely.

Lawsuits Are Pending Against a Range of Institutions Throughout New York

The New York Post reports that a new lawsuit was filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court. It alleges that Bishop John Jenik, who oversaw after-school programs at Our Lady of Refuge, and Paul Gruber, another employee, sexually abused their students. Allegedly, Jenik also trafficked a 14-year-old boy to Gruber, knowing about prior instances of abuse.

In the 1980s, a judge convicted Gruber of sexual abuse after the parents of another victim reported him. Jenik tried to interfere with the police investigation by using intimidation tactics to scare the kids into staying quiet. He resigned in 2018 after another allegation surfaced, but maintained his innocence.

According to the Washington Post, Alice Weiss-Russell filed a lawsuit against Girl Scouts of the USA for the sexual abuse she endured in the 1980s when she was only 11 years old. According to the documents, her troop leader’s husband abused her in the bathroom during scout meetings. She alleges that the organization didn’t protect her, and the misconduct continued even after the trooper leader found out about what her husband was doing.

According to the Daily Mail, three women are pursuing legal action against Robert Rusch, a former private school teacher at the Woodard School in Brooklyn. They claim that he sexually abused them multiple times and raped two of them between the late 1960s and early 1970s when they were just 12 years old.

In court filings, they claim other children were also the victims of sexual abuse and assault, and school officials were aware of it. When one of the parents reported Rusch’s behavior, the school fired him but didn’t file a police report in order to maintain their reputation.

Contact Us for Help With Your Case

Sexual abuse is illegal, immoral, and too common. You have the right to demand compensation from your abuser and their employers.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we care about our clients. When you hire us, we’ll fight to hold your abuser accountable for their actions.

We want to help you move forward with your life with peace of mind. You can depend on us to remain by your side throughout your case and provide the support you need.

Under the Child Victims Act, you can finally bring the person responsible for the trauma you endured as a child to court. Our legal team has the experience, resources, and knowledge to make people pay for their crimes. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (212) 779-0057.

New York Child Victims Act Extended

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 at 2:12 am    

Extended New York Child Victims Act Protects the Rights of Child Abuse Survivors

In 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an act that gives child abuse victims one year to pursue legal action against their attacker. Even if the statute of limitations for the alleged crime they suffered already passed, they have additional time to file a civil lawsuit.

The New York Child Victims Act was set to expire this month, but the governor signed an order to push the deadline back until January 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the new legislation gives abuse victims until August 14, 2021 to pursue legal action.

What Is the Child Victims Act?

The three main elements of the Child Victims Act include:

  • A one-year lookback window to file a lawsuit regardless of when the abuse happened;
  • Individuals who were the victims of sexual abuse as children can pursue legal action against their abuser and any entities involved until they turn 55 years of age; and
  • The statute of limitations is extended for felony sex crimes until the victim turns 28 years old.

Unfortunately, history has shown that many victims of child sex abuse are afraid to come forward. The lawmakers behind this act recognized the need for an extended deadline to allow victims to reach maturity and fully process the experiences they suffered.

Some people aren’t ready to confront their abuser until years or decades later. This deadline extension gives them time to come to terms with the legal process, prepare for litigation, and find a lawyer, like ours at Hach & Rose, LLP.

Some New Yorkers aren’t even aware of this act. Child abuse survivors might think they lost their chance to file a lawsuit because the statute of limitations passed a long time ago. They don’t realize this new act gives them a second chance to bring their abuser to justice. With the deadline now extended to August of 2021, more people will have the opportunity to pursue compensation.

Catholic Churches Face Allegations of Child Abuse

Since the passage of the Child Victims Act, dioceses in New York faced hundreds of lawsuits. Victims accuse priests and other church members of abuse. Some victims claim that the institutions did nothing to prevent it from happening or stop it once discovered.

According to North Country Public Radio, the following lawsuits are pending against Catholic dioceses throughout New York:

  • Monsignor Joseph F. Luker accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1971 or 1972 at St. Peter, Lowville
  • Father Joseph W. Elliott accused of sexually abusing a minor between 1985 and 1988 at St. Mary, Potsdam and St. Michael, Parishville
  • Father Donald E. Seguin accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1961 at Sacred Heart, Crown Point
  • Monsignor F. Gordon Coseo accused of sexually abusing a minor at Notre Dame from 1971 to 1976, Malone
  • Father Liam O’Doherty now accused of sexual abuse as far back as 1996 after an indictment in 1979 for sexual abuse at St. Ann, St. Regis Falls

Pending Lawsuits Under the Child Victims Act

According to Buffalo News, Trent Hariaczyi, a former teacher at Smallwood Elementary School in Amherst, New York, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in 2005. Now, he faces allegations of molesting a student between 1994 and 2000.

Now in his 30s, the victim filed a lawsuit against Hariaczyi and alleges that the Amherst Central School District allowed the abuse to occur.

NNY360 reports that the Boy Scouts of America continue to receive lawsuits for their involvement in sexual abuse against minors. One came from five men who alleged they were victims of sexual abuse between 1960 and 1985 by a troop leader. According to the victims, they notified another troop leader of the molestation in 1969, but no legal action was taken.

In another lawsuit reported by the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, a former volunteer at the Binghamton YMCA allegedly victimized a 15-year-old boy. According to a complaint filed with the Supreme Court in Broome County, Michael Gregg began grooming the boy in 1986 by inviting him to his house to eat pizza and play video games. Gregg allegedly raped the boy during one of those visits and continued the abuse several times a week for a whole year.

Recent Settlements Give Hope to Child Sex Abuse Survivors

Both institutions and individuals have faced lawsuits since the state legislature passed the Child Victims Act in January 2019. Now, judges are reaching verdicts in many of those cases. One of them involved Rabbi Daniel Greer.

According to court documents reported by the AP, Greer sexually abused a teenage boy while he attended a Yeshiva in Connecticut. Eliyahu Mirlis, who is now 32 years old, claimed that the Rabbi abused him in 2002 and 2003. In March 2020, a federal jury awarded him $15 million in compensatory damages, and the judge added $5 million in punitive damages.

The New York Times reports that four boys were the victims of sexual abuse by a director and teacher at a Brooklyn parish. The abuse happened inside the church and the abuser’s apartment for several years, while the boys were between eight and twelve years old. After filing a lawsuit, they received a combined $27,500,000 settlement from the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

Hach & Rose, LLP is Ready to Fight for You

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we understand the devastating effects of sexual abuse. It’s a traumatic experience that leads to lifelong emotional pain.

You deserve financial compensation for the suffering you endured. We’ll help you hold your abusers accountable so that they face the consequences of their actions.

You don’t have to go through this alone. We’ll be by your side to guide you through the legal process and provide the support you need. We believe in seeking a measure of justice for our clients by helping them stand up to their abusers. When you hire us, we’ll use aggressive tactics to protect your rights and reach a favorable settlement or judgment.

Our team of lawyers has years of experience in New York courts that we’ll use to build a strong case. Under the New York Child Victims Act, you have time to come forward and bring legal action against your abuser. We’ll work diligently to obtain sufficient evidence and prove you sustained significant harm from the abuse you experienced as a child.

To find out more about our legal services or schedule your free consultation, call us at (212) 779-0057 today. We can review the details of your abuse to determine the best legal strategy to bring the full measure of the law against the abuser who hurt you.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP right now at (212) 779-0057 for a FREE, discreet consultation
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