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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.

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