Hillary Nappi interviewed by the BBC

Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2022 at 4:30 pm    

Hillary NappiHach & Rose, LLP attorney Hillary Nappi was recently interviewed by the BBC as a Legal Expert on the Ghislane Maxwell case. Hillary represents sexually abused victims and helps them bring legal action against their abusers.  Since the inception of the Child Victims Act in 2019, sexual abuse cases have been brought to light in both the courts and the news. As Hillary has been at the forefront of these cases, we chatted with her about her experience.

What have you learned while representing these cases?

Trauma is a highly individual experience, and no two cases will need the exact same approach.  The majority of my clients are not concerned with the monetary damages they will recover.  What really matters to them is seeking justice and having their voices heard after so much time being silent.

What is something people don’t realize about sexual abuse cases?

People don’t realize that women can be pedophiles too.  It is a very common assumption to believe that all abusers are men, and all assault survivors are women.  This is not true, and we need to stamp out this assumption so that more male survivors can feel comfortable coming forward, and more survivors of assaults by women can feel that their accusations will be believed.  There is no stereotypical perpetrator or victim.

How do you balance the delicate and emotional nature of these cases?

I try to be patient and think about how I would want to be treated if I was a survivor and had to talk about my trauma over and over again.  Some days are better than others, but I always strive to treat my clients with as much understanding as they deserve.

What motivates you?

Seeing a survivor through to the resolution of their case is the best feeling.  Knowing that I’ve helped them to make their voice heard, finally, is what makes it all worth it.

Hach & Rose Omegle Lawsuit Featured in USA Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple did not respond to messages seeking comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully Facebook will heed the urging of child advocates and put a stop to these dangerous plans. If a child in your life was groomed or sexually trafficked on Facebook or Instagram, know that you have an opportunity to bring charges against this abuser. Contact the compassionate and skilled online sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. We are available 24/7 to take your call at (212) 779-0057.

New York State Senate Passes Adult Survivors Act

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

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

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

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

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

If you were a victim of sexual abuse and did not have the opportunity to bring charges against your abuser, contact the compassionate and skilled childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. We are available 24/7 to take your call at (212) 779-0057.

Hach & Rose Pursues Justice Against Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle

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

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

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

Molestation is a serious crime that should never occur. Children should be able to trust youth directors, teachers, and clergy members, and know that they will not hurt them. The horror of these crimes is not reduced by the years that have passed, and Hach & Rose will hold the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle accountable for their negligence. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, you still have time to bring your abuser to justice. Contact at (212) 779-0057 for a complimentary review of your case.

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

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

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

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

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

Rights Under the Child Victims Act

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

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

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

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

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

Whistleblower Exposes Alleged Sexual Abuse At A Buffalo Church

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

Lawsuit Filed Against Famous Musician

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

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

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP

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

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

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

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

If you were the victim of childhood sexual abuse and want to learn about your options for holding your abuser liable, call us at (212) 779-0057 today for a free consultation.

Seeking Justice for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse In New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Lawsuits Filed Under the Child Victims Act

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP for A Free Consultation

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

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

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

Call us at (212) 779-0057 right now if you suffered injuries from childhood sexual abuse and want the opportunity to seek the monetary award you rightfully deserve.

Hach & Rose Files Claim Against Top NYC Prep School

Posted on Friday, March 12th, 2021 at 5:33 pm    

35 years later, a former student of Trinity School, an elite NYC prep school, is taking action against his abuser.

Our client attended Trinity School for both elementary and high school. During that time, he attended a month-long study abroad trip to Europe when he was 12. He was encouraged to go on this trip by Robert Kahn, a history teacher at the school, who would be the sole guardian of the students attending the study abroad trip. Just before the trip began, our client’s father passed away, and our client’s mother expressed concern that perhaps her son should not attend the trip. Once again, Kahn insisted that our client attend the trip and reassured her that he would take care of him.

During the final portion of the trip, the students went on a week-long cruise. Our client wanted to access his travelers checks and asked Kahn, who was holding all the students checks for safekeeping, to give him the checks. Kahn insisted that our client could only access his checks by coming with him to his cabin. When our client arrived at the cabin, Kahn answered the door in only underwear. He tried to quickly get the checks and leave, but Kahn tackled our client on the bed and attempted to pin him down. Our client was able to fight him off, grab the checks, and escape the room.

Unfortunately, this isn’t where the story ends. The following year, when our client was 13, he attended another school trip to China and Japan, with a layover in Hawaii. Once again, the trip was chaperoned by Kahn. Near the end of the trip, the group was on a bullet train in Japan. While they rode, Kahn encouraged our client to drink some sake. Not long after drinking it, the boy nearly passed out while standing on the train. When the group arrived at their destination in Hawaii, Kahn insisted that our client stay in his room due to our client’s “illness.” While staying in Miami, Kahn again insisted that our client had to stay in his room. He gave the boy pills, which he said was amoxicillin, and told him to take off his underwear and rest. When Kahn and the other student returned, he would not allow anyone else into his room. The other students asked where our client was and attempted to see him, but they were denied. Kahn proceeded to molest the drugged boy while he slipped in and out of consciousness.

After this incident, Kahn told our client that he had taken photos of him while he was drugged. Embarrassed and fearful that there were pictures that could get him in trouble, our client went into Kahn’s room and exposed the film in his camera, ruining any pictures that might have been on the film. When Kahn discovered this, he punched a hole in the wall. After the trip, Kahn told our client that he had to pay him $100 for the damage to the hotel room, or he would tell the principal and his mother what happened on the trip. Scared of getting in trouble, our client gave in to this extortion.

Kahn cornered our client, forced him into situations where he was vulnerable, and molested him. He threatened our client with punishment and exposure, when in truth he was much more at risk from the truth coming out. Our client never should have had to suffer through these experiences. As a teacher in charge of students while they travel out of the country, Kahn should have protected and guided these students, not abuse, drug, and threaten our client.

The New York Child Victims Act affords those who were unable to pursue their cases an opportunity to seek justice. Previously, child victims were not permitted to file against their abusers once they surpassed the age of 23. The recent legislation acknowledges the fact that many victims take time to process what happened to them, and often repress the memories for many years. This does not mean that they don’t deserve to have their day in court, or that their abuser should get away with their crimes. Hach & Rose, LLP is proud to pursue justice on behalf of former child victims who are ready to come forward.

The Child Victims Act Allows Sex Abuse Survivors To Face Their Abusers In Court

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2021 at 7:00 am    

The statute of limitations in New York requires pursuing criminal charges for sexual abuse within five years of the incident. Survivors interested in seeking financial compensation must file a lawsuit within three years of turning 18 years old. These relatively short timeframes have long prevented child sex abuse survivors from having the opportunity to hold abusers accountable for their misconduct. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019, allowing a new timeframe for initiating legal action.

Under this Act, victims of child sex abuse and their families:

  • Can file a civil lawsuit until the child sex abuse survivor turns 55 years old.
  • Have a one-year lookback window for bringing legal action against their abuser.
  • Can pursue criminal charges for occurrences of child sex abuse until they reach the age of 28.
  • Don’t have to file a notice of claim for cases involving sexual abuse against a minor.

The one-year lookback window is a vital part of the Act, giving survivors the time they need to prepare their case and face their abuser in court. The deadline was supposed to expire on August 14, 2020; however, the coronavirus made its way to the United States at the start of the year, closing down courthouses across New York. This created problems for those eager to press criminal charges and file civil lawsuits for financial compensation for their losses. Governor Cuomo decided it was necessary to extend the lookback window to January 14, 2021, providing another five months to commence legal action.

Additional Time Granted to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Covid-19 cases continued to spike, leading to layoffs around the state and an increased number of claims for unemployment benefits. Some people already filed lawsuits with the court but faced delays when the courthouses closed. Others haven’t had the opportunity to file and wondered if they could even afford legal fees now that they’re out of work.

With the ongoing issues caused by the pandemic, Governor Cuomo signed new legislation on August 3, 2020, pushing back the deadline for the lookback window to August 14, 2021. Survivors now have additional time to look for a job and find a way to afford legal representation. The cost of an attorney can be steep, resulting in financial hardships. With another deadline extension, sex abuse survivors can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they have more time to prepare their legal cases.

New York Dioceses Find A Way to Keep Money Out of the Hands of Sex Abuse Survivors

The Catholic church in New York sold Fidelis Care in 2018 and created the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to hold $4.3 billion of its insurance company’s proceeds. They made this move shortly before the Child Victims Act’s passage, legislation they tried to fight against for over a decade. The dioceses have a history of filing for bankruptcy to avoid handling individual lawsuits. Instead, these cases must go through the bankruptcy court, where the church could potentially avoid public trials.

Four New York dioceses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after receiving hundreds of lawsuits to compensate for sex abuse victims’ various losses. Pursuing a sex abuse case in bankruptcy court means survivors will likely receive a lot less money than they deserve. The judge can only consider the church’s assets rather than assets in separate entities, such as the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. Although this strategy is entirely legal, it does not seem fair that individuals suffering the long-term effects of abuse might not get their fair share of compensation from the dioceses.

Former Dalton School Headmaster Facing Allegations of Sexual Assault

Gardner Dunnan, the former headmaster of the Dalton School in New York City, previously faced a lawsuit in 2018 for sexual assault. However, the victim decided to dismiss the lawsuit voluntarily in March 2019. She chose to drop the case because she initially filed it in New Jersey and wanted to file in New York under the Child Victims Act after Cuomo signed it into law.

The plaintiff, known as J.S. in court documents, alleged that Dunnan sexually assaulted her during four separate incidents. According to the lawsuit, J.S. lived with Dunnan and his family between September 1986 and January 1987 when she was just a teenager. She worked as the “family helper,” caring for a newborn in exchange for free tuition.

When Dunnan’s wife found out about the sexual abuse, she asked the young girl to move out. J.S. ended up transferring to another school and sought therapy for the trauma this experience caused. She felt guilty for what happened and even blamed herself. It wasn’t until years later that she finally felt ready to face her abuser and hold him accountable for the suffering she had to endure.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence among child sex abuse survivors. Many don’t want to admit what happened out of shame or fear that no one will believe them. Sometimes, it takes decades before a person is ready to say out loud what they went through and seek legal action against their abuser. It’s important to know you have options for recovering financial compensation and pressing criminal charges. The Child Victims Act provides the opportunity you deserve to finally seek some closure and put this devastating experience behind you.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP Today

At Hach & Rose, LLP, our New York City personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We know how to protect our clients’ rights and achieve favorable results in their cases. When you hire us, we will work with you closely to meet your legal needs and recover the maximum compensation you deserve for the sexual abuse you experienced as a child.

You shouldn’t have to suffer any longer. We will be your advocates and help you face your abuser in court and hold them liable for their despicable actions. Hach & Rose, LLP understands the lifelong effects of abuse. Even if your physical injuries heal, your emotional scars could last for years. You don’t have to go through this alone. We will fight by your side until the very end.

Call us at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation if you were a victim of child sexual abuse and are ready to seek the justice you deserve.

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 (212) 779-0057 right now. We can meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your case and determine the available legal options.

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