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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.


Alleged Epstein victims and former youth athletes seek justice through CVA

Posted on Saturday, December 21st, 2019 at 10:20 pm    

Alleged Epstein victims and former youth athletes seek justice through CVA

Over a thousand child abuse victims have filed lawsuits under New York’s Child Victims Act (CVA) since the law changed the statute of limitations for making claims. Recent claimants have ranged from former youth athletes to victims of financier Jeffrey Epstein, while accused organizations have included a variety of public institutions.

CVA enables more victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring to pursue justice

The law has even been mentioned in a series of cases linked to the infamous financier Jeffrey Epstein and his sex trafficking schemes involving underage girls and rich, powerful men. Federal criminal charges against Epstein have ended since he died from an apparent suicide in jail, but civil claims might still be possible against his estate, which is reported to be at least $500 million.

Shortly after CVA’s one-year “look back” window opened, Jennifer Araoz filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate, claiming that she was forced to give him erotic massages in his Upper East Side townhouse and he exposed himself and raped her when she was in high school. Araoz alleges that she didn’t report the abuse earlier because of intimidation by Epstein, and she was so ashamed about the attack that she eventually dropped out of school. Lawyers for other Epstein victims have said they plan to pursue lawsuits against his estate as well.

In another case, Virginia Giuffre has suggested that she might pursue a sexual abuse case against lan Dershowitz, Epstein’s personal attorney, under the new CVA statute of limitations. Giuffre has repeatedly alleged that Epstein lent her to Dershowitz for sex.

Giuffre is already suing Dershowitz for defamation after he repeatedly denied her claims and called her a liar. Dershowitz has countersued Giuffre for defamation, plus his lawyer has stated that Giuffre wouldn’t even qualify for a CVA claim. He claims that Giuffre’s previous statements that she was not a minor when Epstein began grooming her for sex trafficking show that she wasn’t a child at the time that she alleges Dershowitz abused her.

Allegations mount against former youth sports coaches

Multiple men have filed lawsuits against Tony Sagona, alleging he sexually abused them as children and drugged them with cocaine and alcohol while he was coaching Babe Ruth League baseball in the 1970s and 1980s in Staten Island. The victims say that Sagona designated several athletes as “special projects,” which they had thought was an honor and meant the coach saw them as skilled players. However, many of these “special projects” were also the children that Sagona allegedly assaulted.

Beyond coaching Little League teams, Sagona also coached at St. Patrick’s Elementary School and an American Legion-sponsored baseball team in Staten Island before he left for New Jersey in the 1980s. Until recently, he was still coaching the Jersey Shore Warriors – an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team in Morganville, New Jersey.

At least two former Warriors players have filed claims against Sagona. These victims allege that Sagona threatened that he would cut them from the team unless they performed sexually explicit acts, and one victim claims Sagona demoted him and reduced his playing time after he resisted the coach’s attempt to rape him. Sagona has been credited with jumpstarting the careers of multiple teenage basketball players who later played in the NBA, although none of those famous players have accused him of wrongdoing.

Similarly, at least eight cases have been filed against Edwin “Ted” Gaynor, a former youth sports coach at multiple schools in Westchester in the 1960s and 1970s. The most recent case alleges Gaynor abused a boy at the Church of Saint Bernard’s grammar school in White Plains. The victim reportedly didn’t say anything about the incident as a child because he was afraid his father would make him stop playing sports.

In other cases, Gaynor’s former students allege that he sexually abused them while they were involved in sports at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, and he even tried to stay connected with them later in life. Gaynor also worked at Holy Rosary in Hawthorne and a summer camp in Tarrytown, but no claims have been filed in relation to those sites so far.

Troubled youth victimized at home meant to protect them

An anonymous plaintiff had filed a lawsuit against Bob Ellis of The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, saying the accused sexually abused him and allowed older residents to abuse him during his stay at the home for troubled youth in the 1970s. The victim also alleges that Ellis threatened to cut him up and throw him in a landfill if he reported the attack. This is the first claim under CVA against the children’s home, which is famous for housing children of immigrants after they were separated from adults at the border in 2018.

Child sex abuse suits against Catholic churches and clergy might go all the way to the top

Estimated that at least 5,000 suits might be filed in New York, California, and New Jersey against the Catholic church alone, with compensation surpassing national averages for each victim. It’s yet to be seen if victims will compromise and go for collective settlements or take a chance and pursue individual trials, where payouts could be astronomical, but verdicts in victims’ favor might be less certain.

Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo finally resigned in early December after months of pressure from the church. His resignation comes after a whistleblower alleged that Malone kept secret files about abusive priests and helped protect their jobs despite admitting that the priests were dangerous. Malone had published a list in March 2018 of 42 priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children, but outrage erupted against him after his assistant later revealed that Malone’s draft list originally had over 100 names and included priests who were still active.

The Diocese of Buffalo is currently using proceeds from the sale of Malone’s $1.5 million mansion to help pay victims. However, there’s concern the diocese might have to file bankruptcy under the weight of sexual abuse claims like the Diocese of Rochester did earlier this year.

If the diocese does declare bankruptcy, lawsuits and payments to victims will be suspended, and federal courts will decide payouts for each victim alongside the diocese’s other debts. According to a study by Penn State, victims receive an average of only $288,168 from organizations that have filed bankruptcy – much less than payouts from successful trials, which range into the millions.

Meanwhile, at least 30 people have filed suit against the Middletown-based Carmelite order. The lawsuits claim that Rev. George Boxelaar sexually abused them in the 1970s and 1980s while he was working in Orange County at Holy Cross Church in Wawayanda, Our Lady of the Scapular Church in Unionville, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown. Boxelaar died in 1990 in his native Holland. The Carmelite Fathers order is trying to fight the lawsuits, as they say Boxelaar acted on his own outside the scope of his employment, and the order did not know the abuse was happening.

Recent suits against the Catholic church have the potential to expand the reach of these laws much further. Lawsuits in Buffalo and Minnesota contend that the Vatican – a sovereign state that serves as the world headquarters of the church – might be liable for abuse by church officials since clergy fall under the Vatican’s authority.

Additionally, actions allegedly ordered by the Vatican might be used in future cases. For example, an ongoing case in New Jersey claims that the Vatican’s 1962 “Instruction on the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation” instructed clergy to keep accusations under wraps and threatened that anyone who spoke out would be excommunicated. So far, it’s difficult to know how U.S. courts might proceed with these types of suits against the foreign body.

How to get justice for your case under the Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act and similar laws passed recently in surrounding states are empowering survivors of sexual abuse to get justice for the devastating acts committed against them when they were children. Special clauses in these laws have opened up “look back” windows that give older victims a limited amount of time to file lawsuits for abuse committed long ago. However, the deadline to file these claims will not last forever.

If you or your loved one were the victim of sexual abuse, do not wait a moment longer to get justice. The trusted attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are here to help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and help you get on the road to recovery. With over 100 years of combined experience, our knowledgeable attorneys have helped clients across New York get the justice they deserved after suffering from others’ inhumane and illegal actions, and we want to do the same for you.

Contact Hach & Rose, LLP today and see how our compassionate attorneys can help you. Call us today at 646-685-8045 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

 

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