Long Island Hit With Dozens Of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Under Child Victims Act

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Jeff Anderson (center) presented the Anderson Report on June 3, a compilation of 65 accused clergy that were part of the DRVC. (Photo by Marco Schaden)

Since Aug. 14, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across New York State related to the Child Victims Act, which went into effect that day. The law, signed in February by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives a one-year grace period, eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims. Suits have already been filed against every Catholic diocese in the state, Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations.

In the coming months, more lawsuits are expected to be filed. Other states have passed a similar law, including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Arizona and New Jersey, whose grace period starts in December. California is looking at legislation for a second grace period.

“It just makes this whole thing very real,” Brian Toale said, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) who filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Chaminade High School. “At this point, I really want to get a lot of information and [a lawsuit] is the only way to get it. But to actually have it done—to get a text from my lawyer saying your ‘complaint has been filed’—I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.”

Marsh Law Firm PLLC and Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala PLLC filed a suit against Rockefeller University on Aug. 14 with 45 plaintiffs. They claim to represent 200 sexual abuse survivors of Dr. Reginald Archibald, a professor and physician employed at the university for approximately 40 years. Several of the plaintiffs that filed suit are from Long Island.

“It’s probably one of, if not the largest, sexual abuse cases in the United States,” said attorney Michael Pfau.

Steve Werner, was allegedly abused by Father Peter Charland from 1972 to 1976, decided against settling with diocese and is now suing them. (Photo by Marco Schaden)

Archibald was engaged in conducting a long-running child growth study where he examined approximately 9,000 children, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Archibald instructed young patients to remain naked throughout “examinations” and fondled, played, pulled and measured their genitals, masturbate them, make them masturbate themselves, instructed them to perform sex acts and engaged in the sex acts with many of them. He also took sexually explicit images and had patients visit him throughout their childhood, including one patient that visited him from the time he was 1 to 17 years old as part of the child growth study. Archibald died in 2007.

“This is the reality,” said Pfau, who plans to subpoena the diocese’s secret archives. “Thousands of kids were abused by Catholic priests and thousands of kids were abused by Boy Scout leaders and kids were also abused in camps, foster homes and schools. This is a big societal problem.”

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is the sixth largest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and also the largest diocese that has yet to release the names of sexually abusive clergy to the public. The Diocese of Rockville Centre started an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program in 2017 for survivors, and 277 applicants have been given compensation totaling more than $50 million, with 75 to 80 claims still being processed, according to a statement the diocese released on Aug. 14.

“It’s long overdue for the Catholic Church to start over,” said Toale, whose alleged abuser Frank Lind died in 1991. “Take everything they know, all the files and records they have of every incident that has been reported to them, every priest they have moved around, everything they have done to quietly settle with survivors—they need to bring it all out in the open and start over with a fresh, clean slate.”

“Our church continues to suffer as a result of past sins of sexual abuse of minors,” Diocese of Rockville Centre Bishop John Barres said in a public letter. “Victim survivors of abuse and their families also continue to carry the terrible effects of that abuse.”

In May, the diocese started a three-member Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) to evaluate the diocese’s financial situation in anticipation of the lawsuits. Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of NY Arthur Gonzalez is the chairman of the IAC. Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District Melanie Cyganowski and former New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin make up the rest of the IAC.

“Bankruptcy is a strategic tool that Catholic dioceses use for various purposes, one of which is to avoid jury trials,” Pfau said. “We can’t keep them from filing bankruptcy, but if they do, we work with the creditors’ counsel to identify and marshal all the available assets.”

Diocese Suits

Jeff Anderson and Associates and Robins Kaplan LLP partnered to file 19 lawsuits against the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Aug. 14; pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of some plaintiffs:

  • Ark3 Doe was a student, parishioner and altar server at St. Hugh of Lincoln, Huntington Station, and allegedly abused by Father Alfred Soave from 1979 to 1983 while the plaintiff was 10 to 14 years old.
  • Ark6 Doe was a student at Chaminade High School, Mineola, and allegedly abused by Brother James C. Williams from 1990 to 1993 while the plaintiff was 14 to 16 years old. Williams resigned as president of Chaminade in 2011 and is charged with sexual battery in the suit.
  • Ark11 Doe was parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima, Port Washington, and allegedly abused by Father Kenneth Nee from from 1991 to 1993 while the plaintiff was 8 to 10 years old.
  • Ark15 Doe was a parishioner at St. Ignatius, Hicksville, and allegedly abused by Brother Harold Harvers during 1969 while the plaintiff was 12 years old.
  • Ark16 Doe was a parishioner and student at St. John of God, Central Islip, and allegedly abused by Father Joseph Durmann from 1957 to 1961 while the student was 9 to 13 years old.
  • Daniel Sutton was a parishioner at St. John of God, Central Islip, and allegedly abused by Father Robert Saccacio from 1973 to 1975 while the plaintiff was 12 to 14 years old.
  • Ark18 Doe was a student at Holy Family, Hicksville, and allegedly abused by Father John T. Murphy from 1963 to 1965 while the plaintiff was 10 to 12 years old.
  • Ark21 Doe was a student at Holy Trinity, Hicksville, and allegedly abused by Father Charles A. Ribaudo from April to June of 1969 while the plaintiff was 17 years old.
  • Ark24 Doe was a parishioner and altar server at St. Mary’s, East Islip, and allegedly abused by Father Augustus Griffin during 1968 while the plaintiff was 12 years old.
  • Ark27 Doe was a parishioner at St. Rosalie’s, Hampton Bays, and allegedly abused by Father John P. Halpin from 1972 to 1973 while the plaintiff was 8 to 10 years old.
  • Ark30 Doe was a parishioner and Sunday school student at Saint Anne’s, Brentwood, and allegedly abused by Father Michael J. O’Farrell from 1967 to 1969 while the plaintiff was 8 to 10 years old.
  • Ark33 Doe was a parishioner at St. Joseph’s, Ronkonkoma, and allegedly abused by Father Eugene Vollmer during 1975 while the plaintiff was 16 years old.
  • Ark36 Doe was a parishioner at St. Ignatius Loyola, Hicksville, and allegedly abused by Deacon William Mahoney from 1983 to 1986 while the plaintiff was 9 to 13 years old.
    Steve Werner was a parishioner at Saints Phillip and James Church, St. James, and allegedly abused by Father Peter Charland from 1972 to 1976 while the plaintiff was 13 to 18 years old.
  • Dominick DeFrancesco was a parishioner at St. Raphael’s, East Meadow, and allegedly abused by Father John D. Mott from 1958 to 1961 while the plaintiff was 9 to 10 years old.
  • Ark46 Doe was a student and parishioner at St. Agnes, Rockville Centre, an allegedly abused by Sister Maureen Gregory during 1965 while the plaintiff was 16 years old.
  • Ark43 Doe was a student, parishioner and altar server at St. Mary’s, Manhasset, and allegedly abused by Father Joseph Fitzpatrick from 1982 to 1983 while the plaintiff was 10 to 11 years old.
  • Ark 40 Doe was a student and parishioner at St. Barnabas, Bellmore, and allegedly abused by Father John Mahoney from 1971 to 1974 while the plaintiff was 11 to 14 years old and Father Edward R. Andrea from 1975 to 1978 while the plaintiff was 15 to 18 years old.

Marsh Law Firm and Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amalia PLLC partnered to file two lawsuits against the Rockville Centre Diocese. Plaintiff S.T. was a stand-alone lawsuit and the other seven plaintiffs were grouped together:

  • Charles D’Estries was allegedly abused by Father William Karvelis at St. Patricks, Bay Shore, and took trips to Father Karvelis’ home from 1968 to 1970 while the plaintiff was 13 to 15 years old.
  • Plaintiff K.L. was allegedly abused by Father John Mahoney at St. Barnabas, Bellmore, including in the sacristy and during altar boy services, in 1968 while the plaintiff was 10 years old.
  • Jeffrey Kreutz was allegedly abused by Father Steven Peterson in the rectory of Good Shepherd, Holbrook, and St. Joseph’s, Ronkonkoma, during counseling sessions and visits to Kreutz at a juvenile detention center from 1972 to 1978 while the plaintiff was 10 to 16 years old.
  • Plaintiff G.E.P. was allegedly abused by Father William Burke during school activities and in a room at St. Lawrence Parochial School, Sayille, in 1972 while the plaintiff was 7 years old.
  • Plaintiff Gerald Dacuk was allegedly abused by Father William Burke and Father Alfred Soave during school activities and rooms in St. Andrews, Sag Harbor, from 1974 to 1979 while the plaintiff was 8 to 14 years old.
  • Plaintiff Paul Kustes was allegedly abused by Father Charles Ribaudo during school activities and in Ribaudo’s office at Holy Trinity High School, Hicksville, in 1977 while the plaintiff was 15 to 16 years old.
  • Plaintiff J.E.D. was allegedly abused by Father Joseph Kozlowski during school activities and altar boy services at St. Hyacinth, Glen Head, and All Saints Regional Catholic School, Glen Head, from 1991 to 1992 while the plaintiff was 7 years old.
  • Plaintiff S.T. was allegedly abused by Father Joesph McComiskey at St. James and Phillip, St. James, including during a camping trip in 1976 while the plaintiff was 16 years old.

1 COMMENT

  1. Predators groom but before they groom they hunt. They look for children in dysfunctional families where children are neglected (the most common form of child abuse) so are not being kept safe and may also be abused physically, verbally (verbal abuse is rampant in Catholic Schools as is physical abuse which is never talked about)d. Predators look for children in these families because what is happening to the child at home makes the child a safe victim. Groups who concentrate only on sexual abuse which is only 9% of abuse in this country (by clergy this is 2%) and ignore all other abuses these survivors also went through do, in my experience of running peer led support groups for survivors of any type of abuse suffered during childhood and corresponding with many survivors over the years has demonstrated that by ignoring they other types of abuse especially if committed by parents doe does a great disservice to many survivors. This situation was actually demonstrated in the movie .Spotlight in which the two survivors shown each ehas a monologue about their home life. One survivor was totally neglect by his mentally ill mother who couldn’t take care of herself so totally neglected her child thus setting him up to be sexually abused by someone outside the family. The other survivors describes horrific physical and verbal abuse by his father along with neglect. There is absolutely no recognition that what was being done to these two children at home was child abuse. To my mind this situation creates a huge problem for many abuse survivors and groups that concentrate soley on sexual abuse does a disservice to these survivors.

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