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Window for priest sex-abuse lawsuits could rock Staten Island this summer

Window for priest sex-abuse lawsuits could rock Staten Island this summer

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Victims with ties to Staten Island are among those preparing to file lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church alleging priestly sex abuse when a special one-year window of opportunity opens in August in New York State, the Advance has learned.

Events and other outreach intended to bring attention to the victims already are being done in anticipation of what some experts believe is going to be a controversial summer of filings starting in mid-August.

The lawsuits are prompted by the Child Victims Act signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 14.

STAGGERING COSTS

The costs of resolving these lawsuits is potentially staggering, but some experts believe that the Archdiocese of New York already has proactively protected itself from financial ruin by implementing assistance and compensation programs for victims and protection plans for children.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, perhaps learned from his experiences as head of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. The southeastern Wisconsin archdiocese later declared bankruptcy in 2011 due to abuse litigation.

Reck is among those who don’t think that the Archdiocese of New York will be bankrupted by the lawsuits. The archdiocese, Reck said, “has done a very good job of risk management” and already has settled hundreds of claims that likely would have been eligible under the act.

In 2016, Dolan instituted the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program that awarded nearly $60 million to 278 victims during its first two years of operation, according to a Catholic New York Article in August 2018.

However, plenty of other survivors will file, such as people who were abused by religious in various non-archdiocesan orders and others who didn’t participate in or rejected settlements from the archdiocesan programs. “If the archdiocese files bankruptcy, it will be for strategic reasons as opposed to financial reasons,” Reck said, noting that abuse litigation would be frozen during bankruptcy proceedings.

HOW THE CHILD VICTIMS ACT WORKS

The Child Victims Act will allow victims under age 55 to sue their abusers. Previously, survivors only had until age 23 to file a lawsuit in these cases.

An additional provision that starts in mid-August is a one-time, one-year window to file lawsuits against alleged abusers, no matter how old the victim currently is or how long ago the attack happened.

Jeff Herman of Herman Law will be representing victims in the state of New York and bringing lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act. “These traumatized children and adults deserve to be heard. They need to be represented in a way that values their integrity and their humanity,” said nationally recognized sex abuse attorney, Jeff Herman.

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

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