Opportunity for Sex Abuse Survivors To Seek Justice Under the Child Victims Act

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2021 at 5:48 pm    

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law on February 14, 2019. It allows survivors of sexual abuse to seek civil and criminal action against their abusers regardless of how long ago the incident took place. Typically, the statute of limitations requires initiating criminal action within five years from the abuse date and within three years of the victim’s 18th birthday for civil lawsuits. Even if someone was a victim of sexual abuse 30 years ago, they now have a new timeframe for pursuing financial compensation.

The main points included in this Act are:

  • A one-year lookback window to pursue prior cases that already passed the filing deadline.
  • You can initiate a civil lawsuit until the age of 55.
  • You can pursue criminal charges against abusers and liable institutions until you turn 28 years old.
  • A judicial training requirement for crimes associated with sexual abuse involving minors has been put in place.
  • Notice of claim is no longer necessary for cases against sexual offenders where the victim was a minor.

The lookback window was set to expire on August 14, 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused issues within the court system, leading to an extension of the deadline. Child sex abuse survivors were given until January 14, 2021 to begin their cases.

Additional Time to File Lawsuits With Another Deadline Extension

The ongoing pandemic created many challenges for seeking criminal and civil penalties under the Child Victims Act. Filing a lawsuit became more complicated, with many courthouses closing or delaying cases already on the docket. Unfortunately, this caused stress for many sex abuse survivors who faced uncertainties about whether they would ever see their day in court.

Governor Cuomo wanted to ensure those affected by the coronavirus would have adequate time to retain a lawyer and prepare their cases before the lookback window ended. Many people lost their jobs and faced difficulties receiving unemployment benefits. Without a source of income, hiring a lawyer is no longer an option for many sex abuse survivors. Cuomo decided to sign legislation providing another extension to the Child Victims Act deadline. Survivors and their families now have until August 14, 2021 to file their civil lawsuits.

Organizations Facing Allegations of Sexual abuse

Sex abusers are not the only ones named in civil lawsuits. Institutions and organizations are also battling legal ramifications for allowing sexual abuse to occur and covering up these incidents. The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie was recently named in a lawsuit claiming that a boy repeatedly endured sexual abuse from 2004 to 2008 when he was between the ages of 12 and 16 years old.

According to documents filed with the Dutchess County Supreme Court, administrator Helen Fahy allegedly forced the victim to engage in intercourse and oral sex in her office and home at least once a week. She is also a registered sex offender, having served an 18-month prison sentence for raping a minor under 17. The lawsuit accuses the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie of negligently employing, supervising, and retaining employees they knew were sexually abusing residents.

Another recently filed lawsuit accuses Simon Watts, a former Queens Jackie Robinson elementary school teacher, of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl from 2007 to 2009. Court documents named Watts, the Department of Education, and the city as defendants in this case. According to the victim’s court filing, the school and city negligently hired, trained, and supervised Watts. They are also liable for keeping him on staff, allowing him access to students.

Watts is currently serving a prison sentence of 35 years after being convicted in June 2013 of sexually abusing four girls and one boy who were all between 8 and 9 years old at the time of the offenses. Three other victims also filed lawsuits against him, the school’s principal, and the Department of Education upon his conviction. In 2018, another former student won a $16 million judgment against the City of Queens for the sexual abuse he endured at the elementary school when he was just eight years old.

Sex Abuse Allegations Against Priests Continue to Rise

According to The New York Times, almost one-third of cases brought under the Child Victims Act involve religious orders against priests. Timothy Schlenz, who was 8 when he spent his Saturdays at a Manhattan church for tutoring sessions, says he was the victim of sexual abuse by Rev. Carleton P. Jones. Court documents allege that Jones groomed Schlenz for a period, eventually molesting him.

At the time, the priest told the 8-year-old boy that the acts he initiated were to check for cancer. However, as an adult, Schlenz realized what really happened and filed a lawsuit in August 2019, naming Father Jones and the Dominican Friars Province of Saint Joseph as defendants in the case.

This is just one of the countless lawsuits against New York churches. With many dioceses facing financial hardships due to the cost of litigation, some were forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The dioceses of Rochester, Long Island Rockville Centre, Buffalo, and Syracuse filed bankruptcy to deal with all sex abuse survivors as one class and alleviate some of the challenges they’ve had to deal with.

Hach & Rose, LLP Can Be Your Advocate

The New York City personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP will fight by your side from start to finish of your case. We’ve been representing those who have suffered the consequences of others’ wrongdoings for 20 years. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our dedicated and compassionate team can help you hold your abuser liable for the harm they caused.

Hach & Rose, LLP understands that no amount of money can change the past or make up for the trauma you went through at the hands of your abuser. However, we hope it can provide some financial relief and compensate for the expenses you incurred while treating your physical or emotional injuries. Our New York City personal injury lawyers are ready to take your call and pursue the justice you rightfully deserve.

If you or a loved one was the victim of child sexual abuse, call Hach & Rose, LLP at 646-685-8045 right now. We can meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your case and determine the available legal options.

Let Human Trafficking Victims Pursue Happiness

Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 at 6:00 pm    

Human trafficking is incredibly pervasive, lurking in every community and preying on the vulnerable. In recent years there has been a movement to bring trafficking out in the open and make more people aware of what is happening right in their neighborhoods. The more people whose eyes are opened to these crimes, the better we can all protect the victims and prevent future damage.

Victims of human trafficking are subjected to many horrors. After they’ve escaped from their abuser, it will take many years of recovery to heal from the trauma of their experiences. Unfortunately, psychological and physical trauma are not the only lingering effects of human trafficking. One of the most difficult issues for survivors is dealing with the criminal records they develop while being trafficked. Crime and trafficking go hand in hand, and victims are often forced to become sex workers, carry drugs, commit theft, and more, all while they were under the control of their abuser without the ability to refuse. The arresting officers and the court systems aren’t nuanced enough to navigate the complicated dynamics of trafficking, and slap victims with harsh penalties and records for crimes they were forced to commit. Trafficking survivors have difficulty living their lives because these records can prevent them from obtaining jobs and housing.

The pursuit of justice for human trafficking victims, as well as awareness campaigns about the issue, have done some good. Many state lawmakers have passed criminal record relief laws that allow for survivors to have records connected to their trafficking expunged or sealed. But not all states are equal; in some, the eligibility is too restrictive to do any good, and in others the process is so difficult that it prevents anyone from utilizing it. Even when a victim is able to go through the process, they can become traumatized. One victim said that for every charge she wanted to get expunged she had to explain in great detail how her abuser influenced this crime, causing her to relive her trafficking experience. “At one time I thought the hardest thing to get away from [my trafficker], until I was away from him, and I was like, that’s not the hardest part,” said the victim. “The hardest part is trying to rebuild your life afterwards.” Other victims struggle with the expense of having their records expunged. For each petition the victim files, they must pay hundreds of dollars in filing fees. It some cases, the victim is able to work with a nonprofit who can financially support trafficking victims with these fees, but not every victim has access to such an organization.

Lawmakers must push to make these criminal record relief laws more accessible to victims of human trafficking. They must understand the painful and difficult cards that survivors have already been dealt and do their best to make their futures brighter. Recently the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act was introduced to Congress by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, but it never reached the voting stage. Hopefully further efforts will be made to support survivors.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, we urge you to seek assistance. Hach & Rose, LLP understands how traumatic these experiences are and will handle your situation with the utmost care. To find out more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced human trafficking attorneys at 646-685-8045.

Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund Continues to Accept Claims

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2021 at 10:33 pm    

For the past six months, a fund has been in operation to compensate survivors of abuse perpetrated by Jeffrey Epstein. The Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program, which was established by executors of the Epstein estate, opened officially on June 25, 2020. The program will continue to accept claims from Epstein’s victims through March 2021.

According to the New York Times, the compensation fund has already doled out over $30 million to survivors this year. The program has received significantly more claims than were expected – over 100 claims in total. This comes with the expectation that claims will continue to roll in over the coming three months.

When Epstein died by suicide in jail after he was arrested in 2019, his fortune was valued at approximately $600 million. Now, it is estimated to sit at about $400 million.

This enormous sum of money should be divided among the many women and children who survived Epstein’s extensive abuse, trafficking, and exploitation. Thankfully, the Epstein estate and related parties have shown recognition of this fact by creating the official compensation fund.

The fund offers a crucial, potentially expedited chance at justice for many people. That being said, submitting a claim to the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program may not be the best possible route to recovery for all who experienced Epstein’s abuse. Some survivors may prefer to pursue a lawsuit and have their stories heard in court.

Both the compensation fund and the recent New York Child Victims Act can provide a path toward healing for those abused by Epstein. Each of these options has unique merits that individual survivors may take into consideration.

Filing a Claim With the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program

By filing a claim with the Epstein compensation fund, survivors of Epstein’s abuse can seek compensation quietly and without the publicity that may accompany a lawsuit. This process may also prove quicker than a lawsuit.

Rather than going to court (or reaching a settlement out of court), claimants to the fund need only interact with the program’s administrator. The administrator, Jordana Feldman, processes, evaluates, and reaches a decision about all claims submitted to the program.

In her role as administrator, Feldman acts independently of the Epstein estate. The estate does not have the power to evaluate claims and has agreed to distribute compensation in accordance with the administrator’s determinations.

Furthermore, the Epstein Victims’ Compensation program promises strict confidentiality for all claimants. This includes confidentiality from members of the Epstein estate.

Feldman has told the New York Times that it takes about 60 days to review each claim. Within this period, claimants participate in an interview over video-chat to share their experience with her.

“[The interview] gives the victims an opportunity to tell their story, and it gives me an opportunity to get to know them in a way that can’t be fully captured in a paper file,” Feldman said to the Times.

According to Feldman, claimants may receive offers of compensation ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Upon receiving an offer from the program, the survivor who filed the claim may then choose to accept or deny the compensation. If the offered amount seems fair and satisfactory, the survivor may decide to accept it – although this is a decision that should be made with careful consideration.

It is important to note that claimants who accept compensation from the fund in turn waive their rights to file individual lawsuits in the future. In order to receive payment, each claimant must sign a release that agrees not to litigate against the Epstein estate or “related entities and individuals.”

Pursuing a Lawsuit Under the New York Child Victims Act

Whereas the anonymity and expediency of the victims’ compensation fund may appeal to some survivors of Epstein’s abuse, others may feel that the New York legal system better serves their needs.

Those who suffered exploitation, trafficking, or abuse from Epstein as minors can now seek justice through the New York Child Victims Act (CVA).

The CVA, which took effect in August of 2019, lengthened the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse. Now, survivors have until the age of 55 to take civil action against their abusers and related parties. (The previous age limit for child sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit was 23.)

Critically for those abused by Epstein, the CVA also opened up a limited “look-back” window for all survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue lawsuits. The look-back window is set to last until August 14, 2021, exactly two years after it opened.

During this look-back period, anyone may file a child sex abuse suit, even if their case had expired under the previous statute of limitations. This means that survivors of Epstein’s abuse who were unable to pursue a lawsuit by the age of 23 can now do so.

Many women and children experienced intimidation, trauma, or a mix of factors that prevented them from taking civil action against Epstein and his affiliates earlier in life. For these people, the New York CVA provides a new chance at justice.

Hach & Rose, LLP Stands With Survivors of Epstein’s Abuse

Jeffrey Epstein’s horrific crimes have been well-documented. Even in the wake of Epstein’s death in 2019, there is no question that each one of his victims deserves justice from the Epstein estate and Epstein’s affiliates.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we understand that no amount of financial compensation can undo Epstein’s terrible actions. Compensation can, however, help you take necessary steps toward recovery and healing. The money you may receive, whether through a lawsuit or the victims’ compensation fund, can cover medical bills, mental health services, and more so that you can turn a new page in your life.

Our experienced child sex abuse lawyers can listen to your story and help you decide whether the compensation fund or a lawsuit makes the most sense in your situation. Whichever route you choose, we will bring the utmost compassion and skill to your case to help you secure fair compensation for what you’ve endured. We also have the extensive experience in this field that high-profile abuse cases demand.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 646-685-8045 or fill out our contact form.

Rampant Sexual Abuse in the Foster Care System

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2021 at 3:46 pm    

The foster care system was created to protect vulnerable children and place them in an environment where they can be nurtured and cared for. Unfortunately, the system has seen a serious problem with sexual abuse for many years, and there are no signs of stopping. Children are entitled to a safe and healthy home when they are placed with a foster family, and when that trust is violated action must be taken.

Last year there were 92 reported allegations by children in foster care in Florida. Only 6 were verified by the state. According to a John Hopkins University study, children in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than children, not in foster care. Further, children in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused than children placed with individual families. Even more concerning, more than half of child sex trafficking victims that were rescued by FBI raids were children that had been placed in foster care or group homes. Not only are vulnerable children placed in foster care homes with predators, but traffickers are also deliberately targeting foster children. They know that children in foster care are vulnerable and that their guardians aren’t necessarily diligent about protecting them from danger.

Many of the issues that the foster care system is plagued with stem from a lack of proper vetting. Foster care families are not examined thoroughly enough, nor are staff members who run group homes. After children are placed, visits are not conducted with enough frequency, or the visits are not comprehensive enough to catch potential warning signs. At the heart of all of this are overworked social workers whose caseloads are far too large for one person to handle. Something is bound to fall through the cracks, and often that puts a child at serious risk.

No child deserves to grow up in an environment of fear and abuse. If you or a loved one has suffered sexual trauma while placed with a foster family or in a group home, we urge you to contact us now. It is not too late to hold your abuser accountable. The compassionate attorneys at Hach & Rose will fight for the justice you deserve. Contact us today to receive a free and confidential case review.

Two Plaintiffs Seek Justice For Abuse by Former High School Teacher

Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2021 at 9:41 pm    

Nearly 40 years after leaving high school, two anonymous plaintiffs are seeking justice for the sexual abuse they allegedly endured from a biology teacher.

The initial lawsuit, which was filed in Ulster County in May, accused William Dedrick of inflicting sexual violence on a student at Kingston High School in the early 1980s. In addition to Dedrick (who served as a teacher and later a school administrator for a total of more than 30 years), the lawsuit also names the Kingston City School District as a defendant. This was done on the basis that the school district either knew or should have known about the abuse Dedrick perpetrated.

Now, a second plaintiff has joined the case against Dedrick and the Kingston school district. In mid-December, this new plaintiff’s complaint was added as an amendment to the existing lawsuit.

Both plaintiffs, referred to as John Doe and John Doe II in the suit, have disturbing sets of accusations. According to the lawsuit, John Doe was sexually abused by Dedrick many times between the years of 1982 and 1984. Furthermore, the suit states, Dedrick inflicted repeated abuse upon John Doe II in 1984. Instances of the alleged abuse occurred at Dedrick’s apartment as well as in the high school’s multimedia office.

As for the Kingston City School District, the lawsuit contends that district members knew about Dedrick’s abuse of students. It appears that teachers and administrators at the high school were aware (or at least heard extensive rumors) that Dedrick had the deplorable habit of inviting students to his home, offering them alcohol, and showing them pornography.

John Doe and John Doe II have both experienced severe psychological distress since they were allegedly abused in high school. The lawsuit describes the anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and suicidal thoughts that the plaintiffs have struggled with. In the case of John Doe II, this extreme mental and emotional distress led to the loss of his job as a public servant, which then caused him serious financial troubles.

Just two years ago, John Doe and John Doe II would not have been able to seek compensation from Dedrick and the school district for all the harm they have suffered. This is because, prior to 2019, survivors of child sex abuse in New York were barred from taking civil action against their abuser once they passed the age of 23.

Luckily, more recent legislation has recognized the need to expand this once-restrictive statute of limitations. Now, thanks to the New York Child Victims Act, survivors like John Doe and John Doe II have a new chance to pursue justice.

Child Victims Act Makes Justice Possible for Many

The New York Child Victims Act went into effect on August 14, 2019. Under this new law, survivors of child sexual abuse can bring civil cases against their abusers until they (the survivors) are 55 years old.

Moreover, the Child Victims Act opened up a “look-back” window to allow survivors of any age to seek justice. During the look-back period (which has recently been extended to last until August 14, 2021), all survivors of child sex abuse may file civil suits, regardless of their age or when the abuse happened. This provides a temporary opportunity for those who were previously excluded from taking legal action to now pursue compensation.

The Child Victims Act represents a much-needed change in how the New York legal system supports survivors. For the decades that preceded the passage of this bill in New York, John Doe and John Doe II could not file a civil suit against their shared abuser of William Dedrick. They, along with many other survivors of child sex abuse, aged out of the option to file such a lawsuit when they turned just 24.

The lengthening of the statute of limitations to the age of 55 is a huge step forward for survivors and their advocates. For many people who live through sexual abuse as children, it can take decades to come forward and share their experience. In fact, evidence suggests that the median age at which survivors disclose to others is 52 years old.

There are a number of reasons that child sex abuse survivors may tend to disclose later in life. For one thing, some people only recognize that they were abused years after the fact. From that point, processing the trauma is often a long and difficult process. Simply telling your loved ones about your abuse – not to mention filing a lawsuit against the abuser – takes an enormous amount of courage.

Hach & Rose, LLP Stands With Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

The experience of abuse and the damage it can cause to a person’s health, both physical and psychological, are things that no one should have to live through. Child sexual abuse comes in many insidious forms and can inflict varying degrees of trauma. The effects of this crime can last well into a survivor’s adulthood, and often last a lifetime.

If you or someone you love has experienced child sex abuse, even if it was many years ago, know that you still have options to pursue justice. Because of the New York Child Victims Act, you may be able to seek compensation from your abuser or negligent third parties through a civil suit. While money can’t heal the pain of what happened to you, it can help you achieve financial stability and continue down the road to recovery. You may receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, and more.

Hach & Rose, LLP stands firmly alongside those who have experienced child sex abuse, and is proud to advocate for justice for these survivors. Our team of compassionate and skilled attorneys is ready to fight for the compensation you deserve. No matter when or in what form your abuse occurred, we will listen to your story and help you understand the paths that lie before you.

Do not hesitate to find the help you need during this time. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced sexual abuse attorneys, call 646-685-8045 today.

Virtual Schooling During Pandemic Gives Predators Access to Children; Hach & Rose Sues Omegle

Posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 at 2:34 pm    

Keeping your children safe online has never been simple, especially in our modern age. But when the country was forced to go into quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic, the internet suddenly became a much larger part of our lives. Perhaps normally your child may have been permitted to one hour of supervised computer time per day, but these rules cannot apply when your child’s internet usage has suddenly increased to a full day of classes. Predators cannot be allowed access to unsuspecting children. Unfortunately, many social networking sites are not taking enforceable precautions, which has led to irreparable damage.

Our client, an 11-year-old girl, was provided with a Chromebook from her school in order to attend classes virtually during the pandemic. She used the laptop to access Omegle, which she had never visited previously. Omegle is a video chatting service which randomly pairs up users for a conversation. First, she was paired with a group of adolescents. After ending that chat and beginning a new conversation, our client encountered a black screen. Text began to appear, alleging that the stranger knew our client’s location and threatening to hack the devices in our client’s home. The stranger told our client that she had to remove all of her clothing in front of the camera and follow their instructions.

The damage of this single video chat on Omegle is traumatizing and permanent. Our client was sexually abused and forced to create a pornographic video which could be distributed across the globe. The criminal investigation into this horrible crime has been stalled because Omegle does not track their users, which enables predators to continue abusing innocent victims. Omegle did not seek verifiable parental consent, which meant that our client had no idea what danger she was in. Omegle continues to provide a vehicle with which pedophiles can access unsuspecting victims every day.

If you or a loved one have been victimized by Omegle or another social networking site, please contact our firm now. These crimes could have easily been prevented, and these websites must be held accountable for putting minors in danger. Contact our team today at Hach & Rose, LLP for your free and confidential case review.

New Lawsuits Filed Under the New York Child Victims Act

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 at 6:32 pm    

Since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019, thousands of individuals in the country have filed lawsuits against their abusers.

This legislation allows sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil and criminal action and receive the justice they deserve. Child sexual abuse is a problem that has been ignored for decades. Most offenders haven’t faced the legal ramifications of their actions because of the short statutes of limitations in New York.

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

Several lawsuits filed this year show that the change is already yielding results.

Lawsuit Filed Against Yonkers Middle School Teacher

One of the most recent lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act was by John Fuoco of Westchester. In the last week of October, he filed a lawsuit alleging that his shop teacher Daniel Vassallo sexually abused him when he was in seventh and eighth grade.

Fuoco attended Emerson Middle School, now called Cross Hill Academy, in the 1970s. According to court documents, Vassello invited male students to gatherings at his home and encouraged them to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. When Fuoco was in the seventh grade, he said he attended those gatherings. When he was alone with his teacher, he said he was forced to perform sexual acts. He also stated that Vassello took him out for dinner and gave him money as an incentive to come back.

The abuse occurred about a dozen times over two years, Fuoco said. He also thinks the other boys who attended the gatherings were abused. Although Yonkers Public School District admitted that they aware of the gatherings at the teacher’s home, they did not want to comment about the allegations or the ongoing case.

Lawsuits Against Rabbi Interrupted by COVID-19 Death

Multiple individuals accused Rabbi Joel Kolko of molesting them about 50 years ago when they were students at Yeshiva Torah Teminah in Brooklyn. Two of those students were six years old at the time.

The school agreed to settle for a total of $2.1 million. However, the abuse survivors stopped receiving payments from the settlement, and their lawyers had to file a judgment for the $1 million still owed to them.

After the Child Victims Act passed, more people filed lawsuits against Kolko for sexual assault while they were students. According to these lawsuits, the yeshiva covered up multiple allegations of pedophilia and even threatened the victims’ families when they complained about the sexual offenses.

The rabbi was diagnosed with COVID-19 while he was visiting Israel. According to the school’s attorney Avi Moskowitz, he was on a ventilator and ultimately died from the virus. There are still three lawsuits pending. With Kolko’s death, it’s unclear how these cases will end. However, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers says he’s positive that they will prove what happened and the sexual abuse survivors will receive the justice they deserve.

Details on the Extended Window for NY Sex Abuse Victims

If you want to file a civil lawsuit in New York, you must adhere to a three-year statute of limitations, which means you only have three years from the abuse date to seek monetary compensation. If you want to pursue criminal charges, there’s a five-year statute of limitations you must follow. That isn’t much time to find an experienced attorney, initiate a case, and collect all the necessary evidence to prove your claim — especially if the abuse occurred when you were a child.

Many people don’t see their day in court because they feel ashamed about what happened to them or aren’t ready to talk about their experience. By the time they can face their abuser, the deadline has already passed.

The provisions included in the Child Victims Act are as follows:

  • One-year lookback window expiring on August 14, 2020, to pursue legal action for crimes that already reached the state’s statute of limitations
  • File a civil lawsuit before turning 55 years old
  • Survivors can press charges for felony offenses until they turn 28-years old
  • Survivors can press charges for misdemeanor offenses until they turn 25-years old
  • File civil claims against private and public institutions

Coronavirus Pandemic Leads to Extensions for Lookback Window

After COVID-19, many states implemented quarantine orders and restrictions on the public.

At the beginning of the pandemic, courthouses throughout New York closed, and many stopped accepting new cases. This significantly impacted those given a second chance of pursuing lawsuits and criminal cases against sex abusers. With court proceedings coming to a halt, Governor Cuomo decided it was necessary to extend the lookback window to January 14, 2021.

COVID-19 is still here, and many people lost precious time retaining legal representation and initiating their claims. Cuomo and state legislators decided they needed to push back the deadline yet again. Passage of a new bill on August 3 extended the lookback window to August 14, 2021. This provides more time for individuals who were sexually abused as children to file lawsuits and face their abusers in court.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP Today

If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Hach & Rose, LLP is here to help. Your abuser should have to answer for their actions. Our dedicated team will thoroughly review your case to determine the best course of action. We have the resources to obtain relevant evidence and prove your allegations.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have more than 30 years of experience pursuing complex cases and will work hard to reach a positive outcome for you.

You have suffered long enough. We will fight by your side every day of your case to ensure you’re able to move forward with your life. To find out more about our legal services and how we can help you with your case, call 646-685-8045. We will be happy to meet you for a free consultation.

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 646-685-8045 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 646-685-8045 or fill out our online contact form.

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