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.