New York Sex Abuse Lawsuits and Settlements

If you were the victim of sexual abuse or assault, either as a child or an adult, you have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against both your abuser and any school, company, or organization that might be liable for the abuse.

In this post, we will provide a brief overview of sexual abuse lawsuits in New York. We will explain the applicable statute of limitations for sex abuse civil cases in New York and the potential settlement value of these cases.

If you have a New York sex abuse claim, contact us today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082.


NEWS & UPDATES:

May 16, 2024: U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Martin Glenn has denied a motion by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to dismiss its bankruptcy case. Instead, the judge appointed two mediators to try to drive these sex abuse settlements to the finish line.

The judge emphasized the need for a fresh approach and suspended further legal actions while mediation efforts proceed. Glenn expressed concern that dismissing the case would return hundreds of lawsuits to state court, potentially resulting in significant financial awards for initial cases, leaving little for other survivors.

The judge’s concern is legitimate but it is harder to apply pressure for settlement without pending trial dates.

May 9, 2024: Six women incarcerated at various New York State Department of Corrections facilities who filed a lawsuit claiming they were raped and sexually abused by correctional officers have filed a They are suing under federal civil rights law and New York law, naming multiple defendants including high-ranking corrections officials and the officers allegedly involved. The lawsuit details systemic failures within the correctional system that purportedly allowed such abuses to happen.

May 6, 2024:  In J.R. v. State of New York, a New York trial judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff, who alleged she was sexually abused and assaulted during her six-year incarceration at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and while on parole. The plaintiff moved to amend her complaint to add causes of action for respondeat superior, based on the alleged negligence of the two correction officers accused of assaulting and battering her. The court granted this motion, emphasizing that under CPLR 3025(b), there is no requirement for an evidentiary showing to merit the proposed modification of the complaint.

Furthermore, the court noted that the New York Court of Appeals has clearly rejected the argument that sexual assault by an employee, who had no known prior history of such misconduct, can never be reasonably foreseeable by the employer.

This decision marks a significant acknowledgment of the potential employer liability in cases of employee misconduct, even without prior indications of such behavior.

May 2, 2024: Can you bring a sex abuse lawsuit in New York if the abuse did not occur in New York?  A new lawsuit, Pesola v. St. Mary’s High School, addresses this question.  This claim was initiated under the Child Victims Act, alleging sexual abuse in 1986 at a summer camp in New Hampshire. The accused was a member of the Marist Brothers, a New York-based organization that owned the camp and employed the alleged abuser at the time. The complaint included claims of negligent care, supervision, hiring, and retention against the Marist Brothers.

The Marist Brothers sought to dismiss the case, arguing that the CVA did not apply because the abuse occurred outside New York. However, the plaintiff countered that his New York residency at the time of the abuse brought the case within the scope of the CVA. A New York Supreme Court denied the dismissal in March 2023, citing the intent of the CVA to cover New York residents even if the abuse occurred elsewhere.

April 23, 2024:  The plaintiffs, former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys, filed a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act (CVA), alleging that they were sexually abused by George Finkelstein, an employee of the defendants. The lawsuit accused the defendants of negligent supervision and retention and failing to provide a safe and secure environment. In response, the defendants sought to dismiss the case, arguing that the CVA was unconstitutional under New York’s Due Process clause and that the complaint did not adequately state a cause of action. The trial court ruled that the CVA does not violate due process, referencing multiple New York and two federal district courts in the Second Circuit that supported the act as a remedy for injustice.

April 19, 2024: New York Attorney General Letitia James has reached a settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, addressing its long-standing mismanagement of clergy sexual abuse cases.

The settlement agreement mandates extensive reforms, including the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the diocese’s compliance with enhanced abuse response protocols, the establishment of new offices and committees focused on the safety of minors, and the hiring of a clergy monitor with relevant expertise.

This settlement follows findings from the Office of the Attorney General that the diocese frequently failed to adhere to its own procedures established post-2002 USCCB Charter, often mishandling abuse cases and failing to ensure the safety of children. As part of the settlement, the diocese will also accelerate its investigation processes, publicly disclose information on accused clergy, and, importantly, implement a whistleblower policy to protect those who report abuse.

April 16, 2024: No one should be surprised to hear that the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s nearly four-year effort to settle hundreds of sex abuse claims through bankruptcy is about to collapse.  Victims decisively rejected the diocese’s final settlement offer.

The diocese had entered Chapter 11 following legislative changes in New York and other states that extended the time frame for filing sex abuse lawsuits. Rockville Centre offered a $200 million compensation package to settle the claims.  Victims’ lawyers – most of whom opposed this settlement as inadequate – were quick to point out that $200 million was not actually $200 million because it included payments to other creditors and significant administrative and legal costs.

Is any settlement dead?  No. But the numbers need to be reworked.  Because the settlement is dead under these terms.

April 15, 2024: From April 1 to April 8, a special referee appointed for these cases awarded damages ranging from $10 million to $27 million. The striking consistency of the victims’ testimonies, none of whom knew each other, played a crucial role in the outcomes. They described similar patterns in Copperman’s abusive actions, lending significant weight to their accusations.

Copperman, who was stripped of his medical license in 2000 following repeated abuse allegations, did not engage in the litigation process. His absence did not halt the proceedings, however, and the initial verdict against him was issued for $22 million by the Nassau County Supreme Court following an inquest.

Of course, collecting these verdicts is another matter. The claims against associated medical institutions were dismissed early in the litigation. But the awarded sums, beyond their monetary value, serve to validate the experiences of the survivors, providing them with a sense of being heard. That counts for something, too.

April 9, 2024: In a lawsuit where the plaintiff alleged being sexually abused by his sixth-grade teacher during the spring of the 1997-1998 school year, a plaintiff brought forth claims against a school system for negligence, negligent training and supervision, and negligent retention.

The court, however, granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiff could not prove that the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the teacher’s potential to commit such abuse before the incident. The plaintiff’s argument that the defendants were on notice due to a prior complaint involving the teacher and another adult teacher’s romantic affair was found to be unpersuasive by the court.

This case highlights the critical need for substantial evidence to demonstrate that those responsible for supervision, such as school districts or employers, had actual or constructive knowledge of potential abusive behavior, or made negligent decisions in the hiring or retention of personnel. It underscores the challenge plaintiffs face in proving that third parties were aware or should have been aware of the risks posed by individuals under their supervision.

April 8, 2024: In a lawsuit initiated under the Child Victims Act, a plaintiff who alleges to have been sexually abused as a child by Father Robert P. Michele, C.S.P., brought forward claims for negligence, negligent retention, and negligent training and supervision against the defendants. The defendants requested the court to dismiss the action. That motion was denied.

The court determined that the defendants either knew or should have known about Michele’s dangerous behavior towards children before the alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff occurred. It was found that the defendants should have recognized Michele was unfit to work with children and become aware of his propensity to commit sexual abuse. The court also found that the defendants had knowledge or should have had knowledge of the risk of child sexual abuse within Catholic programs and activities, acknowledging that the defendants were aware or should have been aware of numerous agents within their organization who had sexually molested children. Despite this knowledge, the defendants failed to properly supervise Michele and the plaintiff and failed to conduct an appropriate investigation into Michele.

The court’s decision to deny the motion to dismiss the case was based on New York’s liberal pleading standards, which require that at the litigation’s pleading stage, the plaintiff’s allegations are to be treated as true and given every favorable inference. The plaintiff’s complaint, which argued that the abuse was foreseeable due to the defendants’ knowledge or the reasonable expectation of knowledge of Michele’s propensity for sexual abuse, was deemed sufficiently pled to proceed with the causes of action for negligence, including negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of Michele, and the inadequate supervision of the plaintiff.

The court also noted that the defendants’ interpretation of the Moore Charitable Foundation decision does not override the established First Department precedent on the pleading requirements in CVA cases. The plaintiff’s lawsuit, at this early stage of the litigation and without the benefit of outstanding discovery, was found to be sufficiently pled.

April 1, 2024: A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act involving allegations of sexual misconduct by a former Buffalo Public Schools teacher with a young student.

The lawsuit claimed that the teacher sexually abused the student starting at the age of 11 in 1973 and engaged in sexual acts with her numerous times for the following two years.  The plaintiff recounted being given permission by her parents to travel with the teacher and stay at the teacher’s residence frequently. Following the complaint, it was alleged that the teacher was permitted to retire discreetly and receive a pension.

The school district reached a settlement on the lawsuit for a disclosed amount, according to records released under the state’s transparency laws. The settlement terms, particularly the financial details, have not yet been disclosed as per the agreement between the parties involved.

March 30, 2024: Clinton County and its insurance provider settled lawsuits totaling over $362,000 with four former female correction officers who alleged sexual harassment and abuse by male coworkers.

The nice thing about government sex abuse settlements is that even “confidential” settlements are revealed.  They payments ranged from$56,000 to $120,000 to the women.

The lawsuits detailed enduring sexual and workplace abuse by male staff and inmates, including explicit advances, retaliation against complainants, and administrative failures to discipline perpetrators effectively.

There is a fifth lawsuit that has not settled.

March 21, 2024: There is a mess of a lawsuit at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Last spring, John and Jane, who were friends and attended the event together, consumed alcohol during the evening. They, along with friends, continued the night at John’s apartment, where they drank more. Jane, feeling too intoxicated to return to her own apartment, stayed at John’s, where she slept on the couch in the common area. The next morning, Jane left John’s apartment and subsequently told several mutual acquaintances and roommates that John had groped her and made inappropriate physical contact – putting his hand up her shirt and down her dress – while she was on the couch. Jane filed a Title IX complaint against John.

John filed suit seeing an injunction in response to the Title IX investigation initiated by ISMMS based on Jane’s accusations. He contends that Jane’s allegations are false and have led to reputational damage and emotional distress. The request for an injunction is a legal measure sought by John to halt the investigation and potential disciplinary actions by the medical school, arguing that the investigation is based on unfounded accusations and is unjust.

The issues here are consent, the reliability of accounts of events under the influence of alcohol, and the procedures for handling accusations of sexual misconduct within academic institutions. The problem with John’s lawsuit is that the core of it is the accusations are unfounded. But her allegations alone make the lawsuit well-founded.  That does not mean they are correct or that he will not win at trial.  But they are not unfounded.

March 18, 2024: In a case brought under the Child Victims Act (CVA), a plaintiff claimed to have been repeatedly sexually abused at nine years old while attending a Yeshiva school. The abuse was allegedly perpetrated by a rabbi at the school, and it was further alleged that the school’s principal and the institution were aware of the abuse but failed to intervene.

The plaintiff also claimed that upon reporting the abuse to the school’s leadership, his parents were threatened with repercussions if they pursued the matter further. When the defendants sought to have the case dismissed, the court denied their motion. The court’s decision was influenced by granting the plaintiff’s request to amend the complaint to include a cause of action under the New York City Administrative Code section for Victims of Gender Motivated Violence, highlighting that the statute is applicable regardless of the victim’s gender. This amendment rendered the defendants’ motion to dismiss moot, leading to its denial by the court.

March 5, 2024: Opening statements were given yesterday in two Child Victims Act trials in Nassau County Supreme Court. Victims’ lawyers argued that the Herricks Union Free School District neglected reports of sexual abuse by a school psychologist in the 1980s, thus exposing students to harm. These trials mark the first against a Long Island school district under the 2019 Child Victims Act, which allowed sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed after extended deadlines.

Since the act’s closure in August 2021, 21 former students have filed lawsuits against the district, accusing school psychologist Vincent Festa of abuse from 1973 to 1991. Although the district has settled four claims for $1.1 million, 17 cases are still pending.

Plaintiffs argue that the sexual abuse was avoidable if the district had just cared enough.   Despite repeated warnings from students and staff over the years, Festa remained in his position, earning the nickname “Festa the Molester” among the school community.

One plaintiff, identified as P.H., alleges he was abused by Festa during the 1983-84 school year, starting as a freshman. Festa allegedly showed the student pornographic magazines and engaged in sexual acts with him. P.H. is seeking $10 million in damages

In another case, a plaintiff known as J.G. is demanding $14 million for abuse that allegedly began at age 9 and continued for eight years.

A Newsday investigation revealed that 27 Long Island school districts have paid over $31.6 million in settlement payouts for Child Victims Act lawsuits, with claims ranging from $5,000 to $8 million. An additional 150 lawsuits are still ongoing.

March 1, 2024: Survivors of sexual abuse by clergy within the Roman Catholic Church on Long Island are currently casting votes on a proposed $200 million settlement offered by the church, which lawyers representing the survivors anticipate will not pass. Survivors began receiving voting materials this week, with a deadline of March 22 to submit their decisions.

Should the proposal be turned down, around 600 abuse cases could be reintroduced to the state civil court, potentially leading to significantly more significant settlement amounts. It is a question of how many victims want this over with now versus potentially a higher compensation payout later.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of the largest in the U.S. with 1.3 million Catholics, has recommended that survivors accept this offer to ensure compensation and maintain church operations.

The settlement proposal, detailed in a 298-page document, mirrors previous offers made by the diocese, including what was termed their “final offer” in October following three years of bankruptcy procedures.

February 17, 2024: An unnamed woman, who had accused Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine of sexual abuse and battery in New York state court, has “withdrawn” her lawsuit.

I put that in quotes because I do not know why the case was dismissed.  My assumption is it was dismissed in exchange for a settlement amount, but I have no idea. The notice of “discontinuance of claims” filed by Doe indicated the discontinuation of the action against Iovine “with prejudice and without costs to any party,” without specifying if the dismissal was part of a settlement.

Initially filed under the pseudonym “Jane Doe” in November, she alleged that Iovine sexually abused, forcibly touched her, and subjected her to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of anti-discrimination laws around August 2007, during her time contracted with his record label.

February 16, 2024: A federal judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit by a court employee who alleges the court system conspired to protect a judge she claims raped her. The lawsuit, which falls under Title VII for sex discrimination and retaliation, accuses the system of failing to properly address her complaints of sexual harassment by former Commercial Division Justice Matthew Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum claims of a consensual affair. However, the lawsuit provides granular details of a hostile work environment leading to the woman’s placement on unpaid leave as a form of retaliation. U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra Jr. adopted the recommendations of U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio, emphasizing that actions such as placing the woman on unpaid leave could indeed constitute adverse employment actions. This development highlights the ongoing legal battle over the court’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct within its ranks, underscoring the challenges victims face in seeking justice and protection under employment law.

February 15, 2024:  Judge Glenn is allowing he Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre to proceed with sending its Chapter 11 plan to creditors for voting, despite expressing doubts about achieving the necessary approval due to significant opposition from the unsecured creditors committee. The judge highlighted the need for better explanations in the disclosure statement for creditors and welcomed the reduction of dispute fees for abuse claimants from $20,000 to $5,000. Controversy arose over a letter from the committee outlining nonmonetary provisions for abuse protection improvements, which the diocese argues are largely addressed or irrelevant due to recent actions, such as meeting with claimants and selling its headquarters. Judge Glenn emphasized the survivors’ desire for both compensation and a commitment to abuse prevention, urging both parties to resume mediation before the plan’s voting deadline on March 22.

February 14, 2024: A lawsuit in New York alleging a student was sexually abused by his sixth-grade teacher (Martin) in the spring of the 1997-1998 school year, has been dismissed.

The plaintiff claimed the court system and educational authorities were negligent and failed in their duty to properly train, supervise, and retain staff, allowing the abuse to occur. However, the court ruled that the plaintiff could not demonstrate that the defendants had prior knowledge or warning of Martin’s potential for abuse, particularly focusing on an unrelated complaint from 1984 about a consensual affair between Martin and another teacher, which was deemed insufficient to establish a foreseeable risk of child sexual abuse.

The court’s decision underscores a painful truth. You need a deep pocket responsible for abuse to get justice in our judicial system. Usually, that is the business, school, or church that employs the perpetrator.  But you need negligence of that third party  – negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, as well as the specific challenges in cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by school staff.

January 31, 2024: The U.S. Trustee’s Office has raised objections to the Chapter 11 plan disclosure statement of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.

The objections include concerns about impermissible nonconsensual third-party releases that are too broad and a lack of essential information for creditors to make informed decisions. The diocese’s plan fails to justify these releases or provide details such as the identity of released parties, specific considerations for the releases, or the specific claims covered.

Additionally, the disclosure statement lacks a proposed ballot, a clear explanation of voting procedures, and information on non-voting classes.

January 23, 2024:  In a lawsuit filed in a New York state court, a performer alleges that The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) knowingly allowed repeated sexual assaults on nude performers during an art exhibition. The performer, part of Marina Abramovic’s art exhibition titled “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present,” claims that they were sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by exhibition attendees.

The lawsuit alleges both negligence and intentional torts, which might make the insurance coverage issues confusing.  The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the intentional torts.

January 22, 2023: U.S. authorities have intensified their investigation into allegations against former Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s CEO  regarding the trafficking of male models for sex. New York court filings on Monday revealed that federal prosecutors have convened a grand jury in New York to probe any evidence of a potential sex trafficking ring. Jeffries is facing a putative class action lawsuit brought by a former male model, who claims to have been sexually assaulted by the former CEO, among dozens of other young men.

In response to the investigation, the ex-CEO’s attorneys reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has initiated a criminal investigation related to the events described in the complaint. They also mentioned the issuance of a grand jury subpoena to one of the involved parties. The sexual abuse allegations came to light in October 2023 through an investigative report by BBC News, followed by the civil lawsuit, which alleges that Abercrombie was financially linked to a sex trafficking operation run by the CEO and his partner, leading to the abuse of aspiring male models in various locations worldwide.

January 20, 2024: Which New York dioceses have declared bankruptcy?  Buffalo, Rockville Center,  Albany, Ogdensburg, and Syracuse.

January 17, 2024: Earlier this month, we told you about the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre settlement plan in bankruptcy.  This week, a bankruptcy judge has instructed the Diocese to revise its Chapter 11 plan disclosure for clarity. The problem is confusion as to how sexual abuse claimants will be treated and who will get released from liability.

January 10, 2024: In the Chapter 11 case of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, the official committee of tort claimants seeks to hire Stout Risius Ross, LLC as its valuation expert. Stout’s services include providing expert consulting and testimony regarding the value of survivor claims, assisting in contested matters or litigation, evaluating reports by the Debtor and its insurers, and participating in relevant meetings or discussions.

Stout’s proposed hourly rates vary by position, with Managing Directors charging $625 to $900, Directors $450 to $575, Managers/Senior Managers $375 to $450, and Analysts/Associates $275 to $405. Katie McNally, Stout’s managing director, has assured the court of the firm’s disinterested status in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Seeing this fee structure for the lawyers reminds us that this is a burden on the Diocese’s bankruptcy estate. The Diocese of Albany has estimated assets of $10 million to $50 million and liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. These legal and expert fees, while arguably necessary for managing the case and representing claimants’ interests, ultimately reduce the funds available for compensating victims. This situation reflects a common challenge in bankruptcy cases involving large numbers of tort claims, where substantial legal and professional fees can diminish the resources available for direct victim compensation.

January 9, 2024:  A new sex abuse lawsuit naming Cornell Medical School was filed under the Adult Survivors Act. The suit includes both adults and minors who were subjected to sexual assault, exploitation, and abuse by Darius A. Paduch, a former urologist. This class action lawsuit targets the entities that employed, contracted, managed, supervised, and oversaw Paduch.

The lawsuit seeks to address the continuous failure of the defendants’ officials, including administrators, medical ethicists, general counsel, and trustees, to protect patients from ongoing predatory sexual assaults disguised as medical care by several of their employees, including Paduch.

January 8, 2024:  A New York bankruptcy judge announced the decision to protect non-debtor parishes of the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, amidst ongoing sexual abuse claims. This decision means that claimants cannot legally pursue these parishes while mediation efforts continue. The Diocese of Buffalo, home to nearly 600,000 Catholics across eight counties in Western New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 28, 2020.

At the time of filing, the diocese reported having assets between $10 million to $50 million and liabilities ranging from $50 million to $100 million.

January 5, 2024: There will be a lot of New York plaintiffs in the Uber sexual assault lawsuit.

January 4, 2024:  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, addressing sexual abuse claims, has proposed a substantial settlement in its bankruptcy plan. The Diocese filed an Amended Plan and Disclosure Statement on November 28, 2023, offering $200 million in compensation, marking it as the final proposal to settle with survivors of abuse.

The $200 million settlement, contributed by the Diocese, parishes, and related parties, is notable for being the largest ever in a diocesan bankruptcy in the U.S., both in total amount and on a per-claimant basis. The fund comprises $50 million from the Diocese and $150 million from parishes and other Catholic ministries..

Survivors face a critical choice in voting for the plan. Acceptance ensures immediate compensation, while rejection risks the dismissal of the Chapter 11 case and could move claims back to State Court, delaying resolutions and potentially disadvantaging many claimants.

December 15, 2023: A new lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York that outlines an awful series of events dating back to August 1991. The plaintiff, then an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse University, alleges she was raped by a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity at an event co-sponsored by Sigma Chi and Delta Delta Delta. The lawsuit details the plaintiff’s experiences of sexual assault within the context of a fraternity-sponsored event, highlighting the alleged negligence of both the fraternity and sorority involved, the university, and other related entities in preventing and addressing such incidents.

This sex abuse lawsuit against Syracuse University details historical and systemic awareness of the dangers associated with sexual misconduct and alcohol misuse within fraternity and sorority environments prior to the plaintiff’s assault. It emphasizes that both Sigma Chi and Tri Delta, alongside other Greek organizations, were aware of the high risks associated with their activities, as evidenced by a 1980s ranking by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that placed fraternities and sororities just below hazardous industries in terms of insurance risk. This awareness stemmed from numerous insurance claims and payouts related to sexual assaults and other injuries linked to fraternity events and houses.

The legal action seeks to hold these entities accountable, alleging that they failed in their duties to manage and supervise effectively, to prevent dangerous conditions, and to protect students from harm. The plaintiff accuses the defendants of negligence, gross negligence, and other wrongful acts, leading to severe physical, emotional, and psychological damages. The suit demands a jury trial, seeking justice, accountability, and compensation for the harm suffered by the plaintiff.

This case brings to light the ongoing issues of sexual violence and misconduct within university Greek life, the alleged failures of national fraternities, sororities, and universities to safeguard their students, and the broader implications of such negligence on the well-being and safety of students across campuses. This conversation is long overdue.

December 8, 2023: In Pacho v. The State of New York, a group of plaintiffs alleged negligence by the State of New York due to a sexual assault committed by a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee during a driving test. These allegations also included claims of prior bribery attempts by the same DMV employee, which, according to the plaintiffs, were not adequately addressed by the DMV. The case was presented before the Court of Claims in New York.

The crux of the plaintiffs’ argument was that the state had failed in its duty to properly supervise and monitor the DMV employee, leading to the alleged assault. The state, however, argued for immunity on the grounds of performing a governmental function and contended that it was not liable for the employee’s actions, which it considered beyond the scope of his employment.

The judge after reviewing the allegations last month, denied the state’s motion for summary judgment, effectively allowing the case to proceed.

November 29, 2023: The New York Adult Survivors Act window to file older sex abuse lawsuits has now closed. The law ed to a significant influx of over 3,700 lawsuits, as survivors of sexual abuse seized the opportunity to file civil claims, irrespective of when the abuse occurred. High-profile figures and entities implicated include Salesforce in connection with Backpage.com, along with renowned personalities like Cuba Gooding Jr., Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Russell Brand, Jamie Foxx, and Axl Rose. It would make even more sense to open the window again… or keep it open.

November 28, 2023: A man who was allegedly sexually abused at Joe Namath’s youth football camp in 1972 when he was 12 has filed a lawsuit accusing John Foglietta, a former football coach at Brooklyn Poly Prep, of repeatedly assaulting him. Foglietta, who died in 1998, was accused of being a serial pedophile with a history of abusing boys during his coaching tenure from 1966 to 1991.

This New York sex abuse lawsuit claims the abuse began in 1970 and continued for several years. He alleges that Namath and his partner, John Dockery, ignored the abuse happening at the camp. The lawsuit asserts that the plaintiff’s unusual sleeping arrangements at the camp were overlooked by counselors.

November 21, 2023: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is seeking to resolve and move beyond the recent years’ sex abuse lawsuits that have engulfed the diocese and move toward settlement. It has requested that a New York bankruptcy court refer key issues in its case to mediation, particularly concerning its liability in individual childhood sexual abuse claims. The diocese aims for a court-supervised settlement process.

It is complicated to get everyone on the same page.  But this approach is hoped to be more efficient in resolving issues central to the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan. The settlement mediation is intended to figure out who has viable sex abuse lawsuits and get the insurance companies to put up the money they need to get it done.

This move follows the diocese’s filing for Chapter 11 protection in response to over 400 sexual abuse claims reopened under New York’s Child Victims Act. Prior to bankruptcy proceedings, the diocese had provided settlement payouts for approximately 50 of these claims. Additionally, it has started legal action against its insurers to determine their coverage obligations for these abuse claims. The decision to seek mediation reflects the diocese’s ongoing efforts to address and resolve these complex legal matters.

November 10, 2023: Sean Combs and R&B singer Cassie reached a settlement one day after she filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Combs in New York federal court. The lawsuit accused Combs of rape, physical abuse, and sex trafficking.  Cassie’s sex abuse lawsuit alleges multiple instances of abuse, including rape and physical violence, during her relationship with Combs. The lawsuit, which drew global attention due to Combs’ fame in the music industry and the serious nature of the allegations, also named Bad Boy Entertainment, Epic Records, and Combs Enterprises LLC as defendants. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages and was filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, allowing survivors of sexual offenses to sue beyond the statute of limitations.

November 17, 2023:  Columbia University has created a $100 million settlement fund for individuals affected by the sexual abuse committed by a former university obstetrician-gynecologist, Robert Hadden, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

University President Minouche Shafik has publicly apologized for the institution’s shortcomings in protecting those harmed. The university will also conduct an independent review to understand how the abuse persisted and is establishing a new center focused on patient safety. Additionally, over 6,500 former patients will be notified about Hadden’s crimes, offered support, and informed of their rights under a New York law that allows them to sue for damages beyond the normal statute of limitations period.

October 30, 2023: A judge awarded $10 million to a man who was sexually abused as a child by Paul D. Gaeta, a former Lovejoy youth leader. The verdict came from a lawsuit initiated in March 2020 that alleged that Gaeta sexually abused the plaintiff, then an 11-year-old boy, twice in 1987. Despite prior charges against Gaeta for child endangerment and a felony sex charge in 1978—which were dismissed and the case sealed, keeping him off the sex offender registry—investigations revealed failures in the system that allowed Gaeta to continue abusing others. Evidence included a sworn affidavit from a retired Buffalo Police Officer and notes from a journalist, detailing Gaeta’s long history of abuse. The plaintiff suffered psychological injuries, leading to PTSD, depression, anxiety, and multiple suicide attempts. The court’s award included $3 million for past pain and suffering, $1 million for future pain and suffering, and $5 million in punitive damages, with interest and costs pushing the total award over $10 million.

October 2, 2023:  The unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 case of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo are requesting permission from a New York bankruptcy judge to subpoena insurance companies for historical policy information that the diocese claims it cannot locate. This information, particularly records related to coverage before 1972, is crucial for the committee and the diocese to negotiate a Chapter 11 plan. Despite the diocese’s limited success in finding its own insurance coverage records, the committee believes that seeking information from insurance companies is necessary for resolving the case effectively.

In other news, Steven B. Fabrizio, the former general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America and a former partner at Jenner & Block LLP, has had his law license formally revoked in the state of New York over two years after pleading guilty to felony third-degree sexual abuse and felony blackmail.

What did he do? He paid a woman $400 for sex and then threatened to disclose to her employer and landlord that she had engaged in prostitution. He had already been disbarred in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania due to his felony convictions.

September 8, 2023: A New York doctor, Stuart Copperman, has been ordered to pay $22 million to a woman who alleged she was sexually abused by him throughout her childhood. The judge ruled that Copperman must pay $22 million in compensatory and punitive damages due to the lasting psychological harm caused by the abuse, which led to anxiety, depression, emotional distress, developmental delays, and difficulties in forming relationships.  This case is among the first of around 100 civil child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Copperman to reach a verdict.

These sexual assault lawsuits accuse Copperman, a former pediatrician, of subjecting adolescent girls to years of unthinkable damaging and emotionally scarring abuse within his medical practice. Despite repeated complaints to the state’s medical board, Copperman continued his alleged abuse.  Good people doing nothing.

Sex abuse lawsuits like this are possible because New York finally passed the Child Victims Act, extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits and allowing previously time-barred claims to be filed. Copperman is facing over 100 complaints alleging decades of child sexual assaults, and this recent verdict involved an unidentified woman who claimed she was abused by him from childhood until the age of 18.

In other news, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, encompassing 78 parishes and 72,000 Catholics in New York, has filed for Chapter 11 protection to address a surge in sex abuse claims. The move comes as a response to lawsuits filed against the Diocese under the Child Victims Act, with over 100 cases currently pending, dating back to the 1940s through the 1990s.

August 12, 2023: The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, New York, has agreed to a $100 million global settlement to resolve hundreds of pending sexual abuse lawsuits against the church. The Diocese will establish a settlement trust fund that will be used to make compensation payouts to victims of sexual abuse committed by clergy and church employees. The settlement deal will need to be approved by the bankruptcy court because the Syracuse Diocese is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In other news, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club Inc. has received approval to conclude its bankruptcy proceedings with a reorganization plan set to provide approximately $22 million in compensation to abuse claimants. The New York-based chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of America announced that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane has granted approval for its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. This plan aims to address nearly 150 sex abuse claims linked to a now deceased doctor who volunteered as a physician for the organization while being employed by Rockefeller University.

July 11, 2023: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester told a New York bankruptcy judge that the total fund for sexual abuse claims in the diocese’s Chapter 11 plan has surpassed $126 million, as the result of over $50 million in agreements with two of the diocese’s insurers.

This diocese was the first of New York’s eight dioceses to declare bankruptcy four years ago after the Child Victims Act – which we explain below –  led to a surge in sexual abuse claims.

June 2023: In Estate of R.S.G. v. Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Inc. decided by the Supreme Court of New York, Westchester County, the court looked at a wrongful death claim brought by the estate of R.S.G., alleging that R.S.G. was sexually abused as a minor by a member of the clergy during the years 1962-1969.

The estate sought to use the Child Victims Act to revive this time-barred wrongful death claim. The CVA extended the statute of limitations for civil actions against perpetrators of sexual abuse against minors and included a “look-back” window allowing for previously time-barred claims to be filed within a specific period.

The court’s decision focused on whether the CVA’s revival provisions applied to wrongful death claims. The court concluded that the CVA was intended to benefit survivors of sexual abuse, not the heirs of survivors. So in the absence of such language in the CVA indicated that the legislature intended the CVA’s revival provisions to apply to wrongful death claims, a wrongful death lawsuit will not fly. Consequently, the court dismissed the wrongful death claim as it was not revived by the CVA, adhering to a strict interpretation of the law and the expressed intent of the legislature.

I think the court was sympathetic to the plaintiffs – how could they not be? – but the law is pretty clear.

May 2023: A jury in Monroe County awarded a man in his 60s $95 million in a sexual abuse lawsuit brought against a catholic priest (Foster Rogers) for sexual abuse that occurred in 1979. The verdict is the largest award ever for a child sex abuse civil lawsuit brought under New York’s new Child Victims Act, which removed legal barriers to enable victims of child sexual abuse to bring civil claims.

November 30, 2022: The New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) became law this month. The ASA eliminates the statute of limitations on all sex abuse civil lawsuits involving adult victims. The law is temporary, however, and the elimination of the SOL will only last for 1-year.

May 26, 2021: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month after facing over 400 sex abuse claims. The diocese has paid out over $17 million in settlements to survivors.

March 24, 2021: The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which serves Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the mounting costs of settling sex abuse claims. The diocese has paid out more than $62 million in settlements to over 350 survivors since 2017.

September 15, 2019: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to the growing number of sexual abuse civil lawsuits being brought against it. The Rochester Diocese has assets estimated between $50-100 million, while its financial liabilities range from $100-500 million. A settlement fund will likely need to be created and adequately funded by the diocese for current and future sexual abuse survivors in order for a court to approve the bankruptcy.


What Qualifies as Sexual Abuse in New York?

The legal definition of sexual abuse or sexual assault in New York is essentially the same as it is in other states. Under New York law, any form of unwanted and intentional sexual touching or contact can qualify as sex abuse. The touching can be considered “sexual” when it involves a person’s intimate body parts.

As a practical matter, sex abuse can range from groping to forcible rape. The 2 key elements that must be present to meet the definition of sexual abuse are: (1) physical touching, and (2) lack of consent.

The first element of sex abuse is physical touching. To constitute sexual abuse or assault there must be actual physical contact of a sexual nature. Verbal sexual harassment is not enough.

The second element of sexual abuse or assault is the absence of consent. Lack of consent is the key element that defines all categories of sexual assault. If the sexual touching is not consensual it is automatically abuse or assault. Minors (anyone under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent, which means any sexual touching by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Who Can Be Liable for Sexual Abuse in New York?

Victims of sexual abuse or assault can obviously sue the individual person that actually committed the acts of abuse. In many cases, however, suing the abusers is somewhat pointless because unless that person is very wealthy, you won’t be able to get any money out of them.

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Fortunately, New York law allows abuse victims to file civil lawsuits against third-parties who were negligent in failing to prevent or stop the abuse. Common third party defendants in sex abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, or organizations such as the boy scouts. If you can show that the one of these organizations had a duty to prevent or stop the abuse and failed to do so, they can be held legally liable for damages.

Almost any third party (other than the abuser) can be held liable in a sexual assault lawsuit if the third party’s negligence allowed the sexual assault or abuse to occur. One of the most common examples of this is negligent security cases in which a property owner is sued for failing to provide adequate security (e.g., cameras, lighting, etc.).

Proving the Church, School or Employers Is Responsible

The criminal who actually committed the abuse rarely has the deep pockets necessary to cover civil liabilities.  So the primary challenge for sex abuse attorneys is proving that the church or employer who was responsible for supervising the perpetrator “knew or should have known” – the standard under New York law –  about the perpetrator’s behavior and propensity for abusing minors.

Because such abuse often happens in private, it can sometimes be difficult to establish the employer’s knowledge or negligence. But it is usually pretty easy. Because what our sex abuse lawyers see in these cases is most perpetrators leave tons of breadcrumbs that are ignored.  The evidence in these cases is often loaded with inappropriate behavior by the perpetrator, meetings with children in private, or giving gifts and attention to children would make anyone who cared enough want to investigate further.

Even if the employer claims no knowledge of the abuse, they can still be held liable if they were negligent in their hiring or supervision of the perpetrator. To establish liability, an attorney should investigate whether there were protocols in place to prevent abuse and whether staff followed these protocols.

New York Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

A statute of limitations is simply a legal deadline for how long a potential plaintiff can wait before filing a lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitations expires, the plaintiff loses their right to sue. The statute of limitations is frequently a big issue in sex abuse cases because many victims do not have the courage to file suit until years after the abuse.

New York has some of the most favorable statute of limitations rules for sex abuse civil lawsuits. If the sexual abuse occurred when the victim was a child (under the age of 18), New York law allows the victim to file a civil lawsuit anytime before they reach the age of 55.

For cases in which the sexual abuse or assault occurred when the victim was an adult (over age 18), New York recently passed the Adult Survivors Act (ASA). The ASA essentially eliminates the statute of limitations for sex abuse claims involving adult victims, if the victims file their civil lawsuit before November 23, 2023.

Settlement Value of New York Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Civil lawsuits for sex abuse can have a very high potential settlement value. This is especially true if the plaintiff has a strong liability claim against any responsible third party such as a school, church or organization. New York law permits successful plaintiffs in sex abuse lawsuits to recover damages for pain & suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.

In a sexual abuse lawsuit, most of the damages a plaintiff will get will be for pain and suffering. Although sexual abuse or assault can cause physical injuries, the damages from this are primarily mental pain and aguish. In most sexual abuse lawsuits, pain & suffering accounts for more than 80% of the damages awarded.

Sexual Abuse Verdicts and Settlements

Below are examples of New York sexual abuse lawsuits that resulted in verdicts and settlements in favor of plaintiffs. This gives you some idea of the potential range of settlement amounts and jury payouts in these cases. You should not expect your case to look like one of these cases, but they can help you get a sense of what is possible.

  • $1,600,000 Million Settlement (New York 2024): New York City agreed to pay a settlement to a former Rikers Island detainee who was sexually abused by a physical therapist in a jail clinic. The detainee, referred to as John Doe in legal documents, was forced to perform oral sex on physical therapist Carlos Negron on May 30, 2019. Negron threatened the detainee, who was 27 at the time, with trouble if he did not comply. The detainee reported the incident and provided DNA evidence, leading to Negron’s conviction.
  • $95,000,000 Verdict (New York 2023): The survivor, who is currently in his early sixties, was only 15 when he was abused by the ex-priest Foster P. Rogers in his vehicle in July 1979. At the time, the boy had no connection with the church; Rogers had merely offered him a lift home in Rochester. A jury granted him a $95 million compensation, marking one of the most substantial awards in New York following the introduction of the Child Victims Act.
  • $10,000, Verdict (New York 2022): The plaintiff, a publicist in the film industry, alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Paul Haggis, an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. She claimed that Haggis induced her back to his house after a movie premier and forced her to perform oral sex then raped her. The verdict included $2.5 million in punitive damages.
  • $26,838 Verdict (New York 2022): The plaintiff was a passenger in a Yellow Taxi Co. cab when the driver allegedly grabbed the plaintiff’s hand and pushed it into his lap, where his pants were unzipped and he was exposed. She filed a civil suit against the cab company for the sexual assault.
  • $10,000,000 Verdict (New York 2020): A federal jury in Manhattan awarded $10 million to a woman who was sexually abused by her high school guidance counselor in the 1990s. The counselor, John Joseph, pleaded guilty in 1999 to sexually abusing the plaintiff and served four years in prison.
  • $17,500,000 Settlements (New York 2019): The Diocese of Buffalo paid $17,500,000 to over 100 victims of clergy sexual abuse. The settlement amounts ranged from $2000 to $650,000 depending on the severity and length of the abuse.
  • $350,000 Settlement (New York 2019): A pair of developmentally disabled 13-year-old male victims alleged that they were sexually abuse by a counselor/therapist assigned to work with them by the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) organization. The lawsuit was filed against UCP.
  • $27,500,000 Settlement (New York 2018): The Brooklyn Diocese reached a $27,500,000 settlement with four boys who were abused by Angelo Serrano starting in 2003. The abuse occurred over a six-year span and happened at St. Lucy-St. Patrick Church offices, Serrano’s apartment, and a brick schoolhouse converted to low-cost housing by Catholic Charities. In 2011, Serrano was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
  • $11,450,000 Verdict (New York 2007): A jury in Long Island awarded two survivors $11,450,000 after hearing testimony related to rape by their former youth minister starting in the late 1990s. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, St. Raphael’s Church in East Meadow, and its pastor were all found negligent in hiring Matthew Maiello, who later served two years in prison for statutory rape related to the two victims.

Contact Us About New York Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Our lawyers handle sex abuse lawsuits across the country. Call our sexual abuse lawyers at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or try reaching out online or by text at 410-835-4103.

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