1,000+ Survivor Cases Filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates Against New York Dioceses
(New York, 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 13, 2021 to bring a lawsuit.
“By extending this window for survivors, the state of New York is standing on the right side of history,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, whose law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates has filed more than 1,000 cases under the CVA on behalf of survivors of childhood sex abuse by Catholic clergy across New York. “The number of courageous survivors who have come forward in less than a year highlights the magnitude of the systemic problems within the Catholic Church and beyond. During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to provide survivors the time and support they need to come forward and speak their truths.”
Hundreds of clergy abuse survivors have come forward to bring their cases to court. The chart below breaks down, by diocese, the number of cases filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates to-date:
|Diocese||Clergy Cases Filed|
|Archdiocese of NY||205|
Exposing Perpetrators Across New York
The lawsuits filed by Jeff Anderson & Associates have publicly identified almost 400 perpetrators of child sexual abuse across the state of New York.
“The sheer number of perpetrators identified in these cases speaks to the depth and breadth of child abuse perpetuated and rampant within the New York Catholic Church culture,” said attorney Trusha Goffe. “Every survivor coming forward under the Child Victims Act, publicly or anonymously, is shining the light of their truth – and that light has a real power to destroy the shadows of secrecy that have protected the perpetrators for decades.”
“These clergy abuse cases filed under the CVA are just the tip of the iceberg,” said attorney Mike Finnegan. “It often takes decades for a survivor of sexual abuse to find the courage, strength, and support they need to share their truth. The first window was a good start, and this extension is a welcome opportunity for even more survivors to share their truth, expose perpetrators, and make New York safer for kids.”
In addition to Catholic clergy cases, Jeff Anderson & Associates represents over 250 sexual abuse survivors with cases against the Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller Hospital, schools and perpetrators.
Court Closures, Bankruptcies, and the Call for More Time
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, a growing number of Catholic Dioceses in 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. This legal tactic undermines the spirit and the intent of the New York Child Victims Act.
Rockville Centre: Battleground for the CVA
While hundreds of claims against the Catholic Dioceses have been brought across New York State under the CVA, the bulk of the New York Bishops’ efforts to defeat the law has been 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.
- On May 13, Nassau County Court Supreme Court denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors under New York’s Child Victims Act. Judge Steven M. Jaeger rejected the diocese’s argument that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process concluding that the “Child Victims Act was a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past sexual abuse.”
- On May 15, a parish within the Diocese filed a notice of appeal challenging Judge Jaeger’s order allowing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to proceed anonymously under the pseudonym “ARK3 Doe” for his claims pertaining to abuse committed by Fr. Alfred Soave. “This appeal is a bald-faced scare tactic to discourage survivors from coming forward,” said Anderson.
- On May 29, 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.
“Thousands of survivors have come forward and we know many more will come forward in the months ahead,” said Anderson. “We are ready to fight for them and hold perpetrators and the institutions that protected them accountable.”