41 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: LISA DANIELS
FEBRUARY 15, 2019 212-390-0100
PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NEW YORK TO VOID RELEASES GIVEN IN THE INDEPENDENT RECONCILIATION AND COMPENSATION PROGRAM
CASE WILL ALLOW VICTIMS TO FILE CLAIMS UNDER THE CHILD VICTIMS ACT
New York, NY– Sex Abuse Victim’s Attorney Jeff Herman will hold a press conference on Friday, February 15, 2019, announcing the filing of a class action lawsuit on behalf of lead plaintiff Emmett Caldwell which seeks to void the Release he and other victims signed relinquishing their claims for childhood sexual abuse against the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK, pursuant to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP).
According to the lawsuit filed yesterday:
- In 2016, the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK developed and implemented a fraudulent scheme designed to induce victims of child sexual abuse to release claims against the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK at a fraction of their value.
- While lobbyists and officials of the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK were intimately familiar with developing legislative initiatives in the State of New York that would allow childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse to file lawsuits on expired claims and recover the full value of their damages against the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK, the victims did not have this knowledge. The ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK seized on this imbalance in power and information to create a program it referred to as the “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” for the purpose of misleading and fraudulently inducing victims to settle their claims at a fraction of their worth, to the substantial financial benefit of the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK.
- The IRCP was marketed and promoted to victims of childhood clergy sexual abuse by ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY DOLAN and the ARCHDIOCESE’s officials and agents. Upon information and belief, the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK mislead victims to believe that they would not be able to recover more than the amounts offered by the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK on their claims. At the time that the IRCP was conceived and instituted, the Child Victim’s Act was under consideration in the New York state legislature. It would and now has created a one year “window” to allow victims-survivors to file their claims in court while defendants are denied a statute of limitations defense. In statements made to the public, ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY DOLAN and other agents of the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK represented that this legislation was seriously flawed, opposed by the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK and other organizations, and would not be passed into law given this opposition.
- During his childhood, when he was in elementary school, Emmett Caldwell was sexually abused by Father Kevin Kelly, a priest assigned by the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Manhattan.
- Caldwell presented his claim through the IRCP and was offered $75,000. The offer was objectively unreasonable and reflected a small fraction of the real value of the claim. Officials or agents of the Archdiocese represented to Caldwell that the amount was fair and that he could not receive more compensation than the amount offered. Caldwell was unaware at that time of the possibility that the Child Victims Act would be enacted in New York, which would open the door for him to file a lawsuit on his claim.
- Caldwell did not have a lawyer representing him in the IRCP process. He was referred to a lawyer by the IRCP and the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK, but his lawyer was limited in his representation to matters related to language and meaning of the release only. He was otherwise advised by officials or agents of the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK that he did not need a lawyer in the IRCP process and he was discouraged through their representations from hiring a lawyer to initially evaluate the compensation provided in the program. This was part and parcel of the fraud and deceit used in Defendant’s scheme, as the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK sought to take advantage of relatively unsophisticated claimants who were at a substantial disadvantage vis-à-vis the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK with regard to information regarding the Child Victims Act, the prospective value of their claims, and protecting their substantial interests.
- The ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK represents that it paid over $40 million to obtain releases from numerous victims-survivors under the IRCP. ARCHBISHOP DOLAN and the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK now represent that the “window” of the Child Victim’s Act is not flawed, and is not opposed by the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK given that it treats government or public organizations the same as private organizations. The ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK thus reversed its position statement regarding the “window” of the Child Victim’s Act, but only after misleading and defrauding victims-survivors into releasing claims fairly valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars for a fraction of their real values.
- PLAINTIFF seeks declaratory relief for himself and the Class rescinding releases obtained by the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK and allowing victims induced to sign releases, to bring lawsuits on their underlying claims.
Attorney Jeff Herman stated “The ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK deceived victims of clergy child sexual abuse and exploited their vulnerabilities arising from that abuse, causing their re-victimization. Since the New York legislature passed the Child Victims Act, I have heard from numerous victims of clergy child sexual abuse in New York who feel they were tricked into giving up their rights. I hope to be able to give these victims a voice along with the other victims whose claims I intend to bring when the window opens this year.”
The Press Conference will be held TODAY, February 15th at 11:00 A.M. outside of the ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK – 1011 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10022.
Herman Law is a law firm for victims of sexual abuse across the nation. The firm is led by its founder Jeff Herman, who is recognized as one of the country’s leading attorneys for child victims of sexual abuse. The firm has obtained over $200 Million in verdicts and settlements. Jeff has developed a national reputation for his powerful advocacy and unwavering dedication to his clients. Herman Law is committed to empowering victims of sexual abuse to take back their lives and begin the healing process.