As The Child Victims Act Takes Effect, Catholic Church Braces For Lawsuits
Over 100 Child Victims Act lawsuits were filed just minutes after midnight
Child abuse victims in New York will finally be able to bring their cases to court after the long-awaited Child Victims Act went into effect on Wednesday.
The new law prompted an immediate flood of electronically filed New York State Supreme Court lawsuits, with the majority targeting the Catholic dioceses across the state.
Over 100 Child Victims Act lawsuits were filed just minutes after midnight in 11 of the state’s 62 counties, including dozens of suits in the city.
The bulk of the defendants in the suits are local Catholic dioceses.
At least t three cases are being brought against the Boy Scouts of America.
Catholic Church braces for the onslaught
One of the suits which are targeting the Archdiocese of New York among other Catholic services, detailed widespread sexual abuse of children ay Staten Island homeless shelter in the 1960s.
A plaintiff in the suit alleges that a group of nuns surrounded her, forced her to strip, then allowed a naked boy to abuse her sexually.
“The four or five nuns stood around her and laughed,” the plaintiff alleges in the suit.
According to the New York Post: Several other plaintiffs in the suit describe similar acts of torture and sexual abuse carried out by priests, nuns and other staff members at the shelter, according to the lawsuit.
Dozens of suits were also filed in Erie County soon after midnight, most of them targeting the Diocese of Buffalo.
Other suits reported sexual abuse by public school workers and even family members, including a lawsuit by a woman who claimed her brother raped her every night for about six years in the 1960s and ’70s.
The landmark legislation opened up a new one-year “look-back window” for victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers, regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred.
Once the one-year window closes, victims have until they turn 55 to file civil suits against their abusers and the institutions that enabled the abuse to go on.
Other survivors like James Larney are coming forward.
"My dad always told me the priest is just one step away from God," Larney said.
"You must respect and do whatever he wants you to do."
According to CBS News: Larney says that message from his devoutly Catholic father intensified the confusion and fear he experienced at age 13 when he says his then priest, Monsignor Raphael Pakulniewicz, began sexually abusing him in the choir loft at Saint Anthony of Padua Church on Staten Island.
"Very slowly, he put his hand behind my head, and I started to cry quietly," Larney said.
"But, he was not gonna stop. And he guided my head down-- and this was the behavior for the next, about 18 months."