Diocese of Rockville Centre Files Appeal Challenging Child Victims Act

Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys Call out Bishop Barres’ Hypocritical Tactics to Silence Survivors

(New York, NY) – Today, the Diocese of Rockville Centre joined several parishes in filing notices of appeal challenging the Nassau County Supreme Court decision that allowed childhood sexual abuse cases filed under the Child Victims Act (CVA) to proceed. While CVA claims have been brought across New York State, the bulk of the Bishops’ efforts to defeat the law is taking place on Long Island, where the Diocese of Rockville Centre and its co-defendants filed motions to dismiss in every case that was filed against them.

The decision to appeal Justice Jaeger’s Order comes on the heels of other efforts by the Rockville Centre Parishes to challenge Justice Jaeger’s decision to allow certain plaintiffs to proceed with their cases anonymously under a pseudonym.

“The Diocese of Rockville Centre is opting for a slash and burn litigation approach against the survivors of childhood sexual abuse,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “Bishop Barres often states publicly that the Diocese is trying to atone for its tremendous sins in its long history of failing to protect children, but in the courtroom, the Diocese’s representatives are filing unfounded motions, baseless appeals, and resorting to intimidation tactics to keep survivors from coming forward.”

With their underlying motions, the Diocese, Catholic religious orders, and parishes all argued that their due process rights were being violated by the CVA, which opened a one-year window for survivors of child sexual abuse to bring claims beginning August 14, 2019. Justice Steven Jaeger of Nassau County Supreme Court denied these motions, holding that the CVA was constitutional under both the Federal and New York Constitutions. By appealing these decisions, the Diocese of Rockville Centre urges the appellate court to overrule Justice Jaeger and find that the CVA denies the Diocese its right to due process. In the Court’s decisions, Justice Jaeger noted that while similar measures opening statutes of limitations for previously time-barred claims have been passed in New York, the court was “aware of [no] New York court striking down a claim-revival statute under the Due Process Clause.”

“The law in New York is clear that statutes like the Child Victims Act are perfectly legal when they are enacted as a reasonable response in order to remedy an injustice,” said Pat Stoneking, an attorney at Jeff Anderson & Associates, who represents dozens of survivors with claims against the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “Most survivors of childhood sexual abuse, for a large number of reasons, never come forward within the time limits previously set forth under the law. This one-year window was an entirely reasonable measure to address the horrendous injustice associated with the widespread abuse of Catholic children for generations.”