Over 240 child sexual abuse cases implicating New York Catholic dioceses filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave, Wein & Frament to date
(Albany, NY) – Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a one-year extension to the “look-back” window provided by the New York Child Victims Act (CVA), which allows previously time-barred survivors of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to file claims against perpetrators and the institutions that allowed the abuse to occur. Survivors now have until August 14, 2021 to bring a lawsuit.
“Today, the State of New York took a step toward recognizing the depth and scope of sexual abuse of children in decades past and ensuring that the children of today are better protected,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “The number of survivors who have come forward and shared their truth in the first year of the Child Victims Act window is staggering, and we know there are countless survivors who have not yet found their voice and shared their stories given the particular strain they are experiencing in these challenging times. Giving survivors the time they need to seek justice is more important now than ever before.”
Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave, Wein & Frament are working with hundreds of sexual abuse survivors who have courageously filed suit under the CVA. To date, the firms have filed 241 complaints against Catholic entities. Identified in these complaints are over 150 clerics and employees who sexually abused children in the Dioceses of Albany, Syracuse, and Ogdensburg. The chart below breaks down, by diocese, the number of cases implicating Catholic entities filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave, Wein & Frament to date:
|Diocese||Clergy Cases Filed|
“The courageous survivors who have filed suit have exposed hundreds of perpetrators to public scrutiny. In coming forward and excavating secrets from decades past, these survivors have reclaimed their own power and protected other children from having to suffer as they did. We are honored to stand with the survivors who have already filed suit, and are gratified that the one-year extension will give survivors who may still be suffering the chance to share their truth,” said attorney Taylor Stippel.
From late March to late May 2020, New York courts stopped accepting new cases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time survivors and advocates pushed for an extension of the window. On May 8, 2020 Governor Cuomo signed an executive order to extend the CVA lookback window by five months, giving many survivors in New York hope that the COVID-related closures would not rob them of their chance to pursue justice. All New York courts began accepting new cases on May 25, 2020. On May 27, New York legislators passed bills sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal to extend the window an additional year. Today it became law.
Since the opening of the window, however, Catholic Dioceses across upstate and Western New York have begun filing for bankruptcy. The Diocese of Rochester(09.12.19), Diocese of Buffalo (02.28.20), and, most recently, the Diocese of Syracuse (06.19.20) have joined more than two dozen Catholic Dioceses, Archdioceses and religious orders across the country that have previously filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to keep the names and the files of perpetrators a secret. The Diocese of Ogdensburg has publicly stated that it is considering filing for bankruptcy. This legal tactic undermines the spirit and the intent of the New York Child Victims Act.
“We are deeply pleased that Governor Cuomo has taken the initiative to sign the bill carrying a one-year extension on the CVA. The process of pursuing justice under the CVA is deeply personal for survivors and the timeframe for such an endeavor ought to reflect the venerable personal work that we know goes into such a decision. At this time, COVID-19 is an extraordinary factor for everyone. Particularly given that and the unique emotional and logistical limitations that have presented over the last four months as a result of COVID-19, we see the extension as a vital next step in providing a fair and unequivocal path toward justice for survivors. Every survivor is a warrior, and every story has its own timeline. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s understanding and consideration on this matter,” said attorney Cynthia LaFave.