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Niagara Falls woman sues Buffalo Diocese for abuse by former teacher

Niagara Falls woman sues Buffalo Diocese for abuse by former teacher

She’s second WNYer to file lawsuit since passage of the Child Victims Act

According to WIVB News 4, A Niagara Falls woman is suing the Diocese of Buffalo alleging that church officials failed to act against a middle school teacher she said sexually abused and harassed her more than a decade ago.

Vanessa DeRosa, 29, is the second person in Western New York to file a civil suit against the diocese since the passage of the Child Victims Act, which extends the statute of limitations for an accuser to take legal action.

“They completely ignored me,” DeRosa told News 4 Investigates of how officials at the diocese and St. Dominic Savior middle school handled her complaints.

“They said they would investigate it and they said they found nothing and they said I was lying.”

Christian M. Butler, the computer teacher, did end up going to prison, but only after DeRosa called police on him after another female student told her that the abuse had continued at the middle school.

DeRosa is also suing the middle school, which closed in 2012 and remains vacant, and the Niagara Falls Catholic Network.

In 2005, Butler pleaded guilty to charges of possessing child porn and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Two years later, he was served a four-year prison sentence for violating his probation. Today, he is back in prison for violating his probation again by failing to register as a sex offender in Florida, according to that state’s registry records.  

DeRosa said Butler had sexually assaulted and harassed her from September 2002 through July 2004, but that school and diocesan officials ignored her and others who had filed complaints about the teacher.

The inaction, which the diocese has disputed in the past, allowed Butler to continue teaching at the middle school, where he abused more children.

“I want what happened to me to not happen to anybody else,” DeRosa said.

“This young woman is indeed a hero,” said nationally recognized sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman. “By stepping forward and exposing this predator, she is empowering other victims to speak up and protecting future generations of children from years of suffering.”

New York sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman has years of experience working with children and adults who have suffered through childhood sexual assault. Herman Law understands the ins and outs of The New York Child Victim Act and will work with you to get you or a loved one the justice you deserve.

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