I Am A Childhood Survivor Of Sexual Abuse In A New York Diocese Of The Catholic Church, How Can A Lawyer Help Me?
As a childhood survivor of Catholic diocese sexual abuse in New York, a personal injury lawyer can help you by representing you in either:
- Mediation for a settlement agreement via the church’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP); or
- A civil lawsuit filed against the church.
A Lawyer Can Represent You in a Lawsuit that Takes Advantage of New York’s Child Victims Act, With Newly Extended Statutes of Limitations
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Child Victims Act in February 2019. The key components of the new law open opportunities for people who suffered childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a New York diocese of the Catholic Church by extending the age limit for filing claims to 55 years of age and by opening a “look-back” window that revives previously barred cases.
New 55th Birthday Statute of Limitations
This means that people who suffered sexual abuse as a child now have until the day of their 55th birthday in which to file a civil lawsuit against the church for its role in the abuse.
This new window for filing greatly improves the state’s previous, short statute of limitations, which used to be age 23, for both civil and criminal cases. The restriction did not give people who suffered sexual abuse as a child nearly enough time to heal from their trauma to the extent where they felt able to come forward to press criminal charges or file a lawsuit.
One-Year Revival Period for Previously Barred Cases
Furthermore, these victims who had filed claims against the church but were previously barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations in their cases will benefit from a one-year “revival period,” during which their cases can be reopened.
In other words, for example, a person who is now 56, 70, 85—any age—and was previously precluded from taking action against the church due to the statute of limitations having expired, has until August 14, 2020, to commence a lawsuit. If the case does not settle, the victim can finally have their abuse acknowledged in court and receive compensation for the physical, emotional, and economic damages resulting from this abuse as the result of a verdict
A New York Lawyer Can Represent You in IRCP Mediation with the Church
Some victims of New York diocese childhood sexual abuse prefer to avoid reliving the trauma of their experiences in a courtroom and choose, instead, to work with the Catholic Church to reach a settlement agreement in compensation for the abuse.
The Archbishop of New York has appointed a mediator for its IRCP. Despite this appointment, the mediator is not otherwise connected with the Catholic Church. In an IRCP mediation, settlement amounts are discussed for each individual reported case of childhood sexual abuse through the church.
Although the IRCP discussion is not a court proceeding, the abuse victim will benefit from representation by a lawyer who understands the value of their case and has experience negotiating for fair settlements.
Victims should also note that by accepting an IRCP settlement, they are precluded from filing any future civil action regarding their childhood sexual abuse by whomever is the subject of the case for which they have already been compensated.
The Downside to IRCP
Although New York Catholic churches have demonstrated unprecedented cooperation toward facilitating compensation of abuse survivors, for many victims, the money is only a secondary concern.
These childhood sexual abuse victims have suffered a lifetime of pain from the crimes committed against them at such an early age. They suffer the trauma of being violated by people who should have been the most trustworthy figures in their lives. They also suffer from the emotional scarring that comes from bearing such a dark secret or—perhaps even worse—sharing their secret only to have it not believed by family or confidants.
For these victims, being able to finally confront their abusers and/or their church enablers and having their abuse acknowledged in a court of law weighs much more heavily than any amount of financial compensation.
The fact that accepting an IRCP settlement will keep their case of child sexual abuse cloaked might make these victims shy away from these negotiations.
A Lawyer Will Fight for Your Case With Newly Released Evidence
Previous lawsuits against the Catholic Church were not only barred by short-term statutes of limitations, but also rendered impossibly challenging to prove. This is because of the tight-lipped culture of the institution of the Church, with its history of covering up allegations, protecting accused clergy, and moving them from one parish to another, rather than turning them into law enforcement or—at the very least—removing them from the Church.
Today, as a result of the changes in the law, victims have much longer to file their lawsuits, and their cases benefit from evidence that is being released from New York Diocesan records.
In September 2018, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood issued subpoenas for records from all Catholic dioceses in New York connected with childhood sexual abuse and cover-ups.
Let Us Help You Get Closure on Your Childhood Sexual Abuse
Now is the time you may have thought would never come—your chance to step toward closure.
Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. can represent you in this effort to seek justice as a childhood survivor of Catholic diocese sexual abuse in New York, no matter how you want to proceed. Call us today for a free case review and consultation: (516) 932-0400. Our staff can assist you in English, Spanish, Greek, Bengali, Tamil, and Kannada.