Survivors file suite of lawsuits naming new alleged abusers among upstate Boy Scout groups

Democrat and Chronicle

August 6, 2020

By Sean Lahman

More than a dozen survivors have filed lawsuits in state court over the last week alleging that they were sexually abused while participating in Boy Scout activities in central and western New York.

The suits accuse Scout leaders and adult volunteers of sexually abusing the the survivors when they were as young as 8 years old. The timeframe for the alleged abuse described in these civil suits ranges from 1949 to 2007, but the majority of the assaults occurred in the 1970s.

The claims were filed under the 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. That window had been set to close Aug. 13, but a one-year extension was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week.

Plaintiff’s lawyers say that they had been working to get cases filed by the original deadline, prompting this recent surge of new cases.

Three of the new complaints name perpetrators who had been identified in previous lawsuits, including the Rev. Robert F. O’Neill.

O’Neill was a Catholic priest and of the worst serial abusers ever uncovered in the Rochester diocese. Already named as a defendant in more than 20 lawsuits, O’Neill served at six parishes in the Rochester area between 1962 and 2001. He also served as a counselor to Scouts in various local troops.

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