NEW YORK (WRVO) Beginning August 14, New Yorkers who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse will have a one year window of opportunity to file civil suits against their abusers, under the terms of the Child Victims Act passed by the legislature earlier this year. Thousands of cases are expected to be filed, with payouts potentially in the millions.
Gordon Smith was 14 years old when he says he was first abused by two priests at a St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and school in Albany in the early 1960s.
He was filling in as a janitor for his father, who was sick. He said the abuse continued, on a weekly basis, for three years.
“It was about as horrific as it could get,” said Smith, in an interview with public radio and TV . “We’re talking about molestation, we’re talking about sodomization, we’re talking about oral sex.”
One of the priests that Smith is accusing, Father Donald Starks, appears on a list kept by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese of priests with “credible” accusations against them. Starks died in 1989.
He says the priests threatened him.
“They told me, if I ever said a word, first of all no one would believe me,” Smith said. “Then they also said that they would make sure my father never worked again and would ruin my family.”
Smith found himself in a position no child should be in, protecting his own father from the situation. He said his dad, a World War II veteran, kept guns in the house.
“I knew that if he found out there was going to be problem,” Smith said. “Because he would use one of the guns and go after him”.
For decades he told no one. Smith drank for years, until he says he got married and straightened out. He first sought help in 2005, and asked the church to pay for his therapy. They paid for one session, then called and said they did not believe him.
Smith said he left the Catholic Church, and no longer believes in God.
“When you are being abused and the crucifix hangs on the wall, and as a child you are looking at it and saying ‘why are you letting this happen?’, and it continues,” said Smith. “You come to believe that there is no God to help you. There is no help.”
Smith, who now lives in Cohoes and works in the financial services industry, is preparing to file his lawsuit against the church on August 14. Under the previous statute of limitation laws he would have had to file charges when he was in his 20s. Under the one year window in the new law, anyone who was abused can initiate civil court action.
“There is no statue of limitations for trauma. Brave victims of sexual abuse have suffered for far too long. Survivors deserve a voice and the opportunity to seek justice” said nationally recognized sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman.”
Herman Law plans to file dozens of cases against the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and several other Catholic dioceses in the state when the window opens on August 14th!
The time has finally come for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in New York. “The healing process begins as soon as a survivor speaks about the tragedy that happened to them,” said Jeff.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse in New York, Herman Law may be able to help you achieve long overdue justice. Jeff Herman is a trailblazer in the representation of victims of sexual abuse, devoting 100% of his practice to the cause. Renowned for his aggressive and tireless advocacy on behalf of his clients, Jeff understands the unique issues involved in the representation of survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
Please contact us today to discuss your options.