After decades of having their childhood sex abuse silenced, victims of abuse by clergy of the Rockville Centre Diocese of the Catholic Church on Long Island are lining up to file civil lawsuits or settle them out of court. The settlement allows them to recover compensation for their horrific experiences. The activity is happening thanks to changes in New York laws and the church’s newfound cooperation in accepting accountability for these assaults.
Child Victims Act Opens the Door for Church Sex Abuse Victims to Tell Their Stories Via Civil Lawsuits
No matter how old you are or how long ago your childhood sexual abuse happened, the Child Victims Act now permits you to file a lawsuit against the Long Island or New York church that facilitated and/or concealed your abuse.
This legislation, signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in February 2019, empowers victims to hold their abusers and the facilitators accountable, both criminally and civilly.
Aspects of the Child Victims Act that allow lawsuits include:
- Victims can now file a civil lawsuit against their abusers at any time prior to their 55th birthday
- Opens a one-year window for abuse victims who were previously time-barred to revive their lawsuits, no matter when the abuse occurred or what their current age is
- Does away with notice of claim requirements for child sex offenses
- Mandates judicial training on sexual abuse of minors
- Gives the Office of Court Administration authority to enact rules that move along the adjudication of revived lawsuits in a timely manner
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Why the Extended Statute of Limitations and “Lookback” Period Make Such a Difference to Abuse Victims
As any victim of childhood sexual abuse can tell you, several psychological realities play into the reasons it can take a long time for them to report their abuse, much less press criminal charges or file lawsuits to recover damages for the physical, emotional, and financial losses suffered as a result of the abuse.
The revisions to the statute of limitations account for the time that victims of childhood sex abuse need to emotionally process the wrongs committed against them before they feel ready to report their abusers and hold them civilly accountable for their actions.
Prior to the signing of the Child Victims Act, by the time victims had worked up the courage to move ahead with their civil actions against church clergy, the very short statute of limitations had already closed. The one-year “look-back window” defined in CVP § 214-g enables the revival of such previously time-barred actions.
Women in Their 60s Come Forward After Being Abused as Girls in Rockville Centre
In February 2019, just days after Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law, two women who, as children in the 1960s and 1970s, allegedly suffered sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Rockville Centre Diocese, broke their silence with public statements and their specific demands.
Prior to the new law, this lawsuit would not be possible. And, although the women are now in their 60s, the one-year look-back window provision now enables the victims to pursue compensation for the damages they have suffered.
Diocese of Rockville Centre Paid Settlements to Victims as Alternative to Lawsuits
Some victims of childhood sex abuse choose to seek compensation from the church directly, rather than file a lawsuit in civil court. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversees all the Catholic churches on Long Island, created a fund from which victims receive compensation for the childhood abuse they suffered at the hands of diocesan clergy.
The fund is made available through the Diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established in October 2017.
Although the process for applying for compensation through the IRCP fund did not involve a legal proceeding, many victims chose to enlist the aid of a lawyer to represent them in the settlement mediation.
In September 2018, the Diocese compensated almost 300 sex abuse victims between $25,000 and $50,000. As a result of receiving this compensation from the Diocese’s IRCP, these victims have agreed not to file lawsuits against the church for their abuse.
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Rockville Centre Diocese Report on Sex Abuse Names Accused Clergy
After decades of secrecy surrounding the identification of accused church child abusers, the general public is now privy to the names of 51 alleged child molesters who are linked to the diocese via 100 churches and schools on Long Island and have been accused of molesting hundreds of children over the years.
As of August 2019, The Rockville Centre Diocese has not released any information it has that would shed light on accused perpetrators of child sex abuse within the Diocese.
All of New York’s eight Catholic dioceses were subpoenaed by New York Attorney General in 2018. The subpoenas demand any information gathered from internal church investigations, payments made to victims, and all documentation connected to child sex abuse allegations.
Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Can Represent You in Your Quest for Justice
No doubt, you have walked a long and difficult path to get to where you are today. You are now ready to hold the Rockville Centre Diocese accountable for the sex abuse your suffered as a child, and changes in New York laws are making it possible.
We are here to help you bring it all together. Call Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. today for a free case review: (516) 932-0400.