July 20, 2020
By Matthew Spina
An Erie County man alleges in a recent Child Victims Act lawsuit that he was molested decades ago by a police officer assigned to advise students on personal safety, including the need to be wary of strangers.
The man, now in his 40s, says the officer victimized him in the early 1990s, when he was a student with Genesee Valley BOCES, which serves Genesee, Livingston, Steuben and Wyoming counties.
The suit filed Friday identifies Christopher Ferrara, a former staff member with the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department’s “Officer Bill” program, as the molester.
The Child Victims Act, which temporarily waives the statute of limitations on decades-old abuses, has unleashed hundreds of lawsuits against major institutions in New York, especially the Catholic Church, schools and nonprofits that cater to children, such as the Boy Scouts. But the complaint filed days ago appears to be the first locally to stem from the actions of an officer assigned to work with students.
However, while it is rare for police to molest their students, it’s not unheard of. In 2015, The Buffalo News compiled a database of more than 700 instances of police sexual misconduct from around the country. Around 5% of the cases involved officers assigned to work with young people – school resource officers, DARE officers and Explorer post advisers, for example.
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