News 12 [The Bronx NY]
March 8, 2021
A man claims a Knights of Columbus member who worked as a youth basketball coach for the organization sexually abused him as a child in the Bronx.
The Knights of Columbus has 1.9 million members across the U.S. It was initially formed to help those in need as a Catholic fraternal benefit society.
Jeffrey Davis claims Kenneth McLaughlin abused him as a boy and claims the organization did not stop or prevent the abuse from happening.
Documents from Davis’ attorneys show he is one of four victims in this suit making claims against members. The other victims are staying anonymous.
“He’s taken away a lot of self-esteem in my life but I don’t want him to take my name away. I still have my name,” said Davis.
The claim says, “The sexual abuse occurred numerous times and included, but was not limited to, McLaughlin forcing Jeffrey to undress and fondling Jeffrey’s genitals.”
In regards to alleged abuse, defendants named “failed to take reasonable steps to protect them from that danger,” the suit says.
Davis says his dad got him involved with the Knights’ youth basketball program. At the time, it was located on the Grand Concourse near Poe Park.
The Knights of Columbus says members volunteering in programs serving minors are trained and background checked every three years. It also said, “The Knights of Columbus is committed to preventing sexual abuse, promoting the healing of survivors, and strengthening our Safe Environment Program, which are all essential to our core mission of service.”
This case will head to court due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo extending the Child Victim’s Act lookback period to Aug. 14. The extension means any victims of sex abuse can continue to file claims against abusers. It was extended to do the pandemic.
In a statement, the Knights of Columbus said:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the allegations in this lawsuit and take these matters very seriously. While we are not in a position to comment on these specific claims at this time, we applaud the courage and strength of victims of sexual abuse in bringing these allegations to light. The Knights of Columbus is committed to preventing sexual abuse, promoting the healing of survivors, and strengthening our Safe Environment Program, which are all essential to our core mission of service to our members, their families, the Catholic Church, and our communities. Through the Knights of Columbus Safe Environment program, members who volunteer in programs directly serving minors are trained and background checked every three years. Our safe environment program was developed in conjunction with Praesidium, an internationally recognized and trusted resource in abuse prevention and awareness. Knights of Columbus members serving as volunteers in their parishes are subject to applicable diocesan safe environment training and background check requirements as well.”