Slew of new lawsuits name 21 previously unidentified alleged abusers in Rochester diocese

Democrat and Chronicle

August 3, 2020

By Sean Lahman

More than 70 survivors filed civil suits last week accusing former priests, nuns and lay teachers who served within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester of sexually abusing them as children.

Among the new cases are 21 alleged abusers who had not previously been accused publicly.

A deadline to lodge the claims by Aug. 13 — a date that could yet be extended if legislation is signed, has accelerated the pace of filings.

At least 230 complaints have been brought against the diocese and its member parishes since last August under the state’s Child Victims Act. Adopted in early 2019, the CVA carved out a one-year window during which suits can be brought by people who allege they were sexually abused when they were young.

One of the new lawsuits alleges abuse that occurred in 1939, but most of the new cases describe incidents of sexual misconduct from the 1970s and 1980s. Roughly half of the new lawsuits involve victims who were 10 years old or younger when their abuse allegedly started.

To date, roughly 80% of the 260 CVA cases filled in Monroe County name the diocese and its parishes as defendants.

“We are honored to stand with these survivors in their pursuit of truth and accountability,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm filed 58 of the suits last week. “The number of complaints being filed demonstrates the magnitude of peril that has existed in the diocese for decades and that will no longer continue due to these courageous survivors.”

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