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More than 150 child sex abuse cases have been filed in Brooklyn under Child Victims Act

December 5, 2019 Noah Goldberg
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More than 150 survivors of sex abuse as children have filed lawsuits in Brooklyn against their alleged abusers under the state’s one-year look-back window, according to new data from the Office of Court Administration.

The Child Victims Act went into effect on Aug. 14, allowing survivors of sexual abuse one year to file lawsuits otherwise blocked by the statute of limitations against abusers as well as institutions that turned a blind eye to the abuse.

Fifty-five lawsuits were filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on the first day the law went into effect. The lawsuits have slowed since then, with a total of 168 filed in Brooklyn since Aug. 14. Brooklyn has the third most lawsuits filed under the act, with 258 suits filed in Manhattan and 288 in Erie County.

Less than halfway through the look-back window, 1,176 lawsuits have already been filed.

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In one November lawsuit, a man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn over alleged abuse that occurred at Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School in the 1960s by an employee named “Brother Basil,” who has died since.

From approximately 1967 to 1968, Brother Basil sexually abused plaintiff … while plaintiff was still an infant, and a student at Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School,” the lawsuit reads.

The Child Victims Act had floundered in the State Senate for over a decade, blocked by Republican representatives. But after Democrats took majority control in January, it quickly arrived on the Assembly floor and passed by a resounding 130-3 vote.

“I think it’s going extremely well in terms of helping victims heal,” said Jeff Herman, a lawyer representing plaintiffs suing under the Child Victims Act. Herman represents more than a dozen people filing CVA lawsuits in Brooklyn. “Everyday I’m hearing from my clients who their entire lives felt they would never have any measure of justice. Simply by having a voice, they’re saying it’s changing their lives.”

Herman told the Brooklyn Eagle his firm is investigating more than 100 cases in Brooklyn, most against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and different foster care companies operating in the borough.

Herman expects most of the cases to be settled, saying that settlements occur in 99 percent of his cases.

“I expect [the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is] going to settle most of these cases,” he said. “I can’t imagine them going to trial.”

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