Young boy sexually abused in Staten Island foster home, alleges suit against NYC

Staten Island Advance [Staten Island NY]

July 11, 2021

By Frank Donnelly

Running away didn’t help.

Neither did telling a social worker about the abuse he contends he suffered in his Staten Island foster home.

A young boy could have been spared the pain and agony of being sexually abused by an older foster child had the city and a child-care agency acted on his complaints of molestation, a lawsuit alleges.

“If minimal foster care services had been provided to plaintiff with reasonable care, the sexual assaults of plaintiff could have been thus prevented,” alleges a civil complaint against the city and Seamen’s Society for Children and Families.

As a result of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff has suffered “severe and permanent psychological, emotional and physical injuries, shame, humiliation and the inability to lead a normal life,” contends the complaint.

A New Jersey resident, the man is now in his late 30s, his court filings indicate.

The complaint does not identify him by his full name. Only his initials are listed so as to decrease “the risk for further humiliation, trauma and psychological damage” if his identity as a child sexual abuse victim was to become known, said the complaint.

“The failings of the foster care system are systematic with thousands of victims,” said Jeff Herman, the plaintiff’s Manhattan-based lawyer. “The allegations are that the City of New York failed to protect our client from sexual abuse in the foster home.

“I am determined to help this brave man share his story and begin the healing process. We are a voice for victims and our sole focus is to help victims heal by giving them a voice through filing a civil suit.”

The suit was recently filed in state Supreme Court, St. George, under the Child Victims Act. The plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Enacted in August 2019, the Child Victims Act created a one-year window for plaintiffs of any age to sue alleged abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.

That window was extended to August of this year.

The law also allows victims of sexual abuse to sue their alleged abuser any time before they turn 55.

The range of complaints under the Child Victims Act has sent shockwaves across Staten Island.

Lawsuits have been filed against Roman Catholic schools and churches, the Boy Scouts, a Pentecostal church, a youth athletic institution and even one man’s parents.

According to the complaint, the city and Seamen’s Society placed the plaintiff in a Staten Island foster home in 1987.

He was about 5 years old then.

Other foster children were in the home, including a boy who was around 18, said the complaint.

Over the course of the next two years, the teen sexually abused the plaintiff “on at least a weekly basis,” the complaint alleges.

The older boy also forced the plaintiff to watch him abuse another foster son, said the complaint.

While at the home, the plaintiff ran away “on multiple occasions” but was returned to the foster family each time, the complaint said.

Despite the boy reporting the abuse to police and a social worker employed by the defendants, no investigation was conducted, alleges the complaint.

By failing to take any action, the defendants provided the older boy with “unsupervised access to plaintiff and gave him the opportunity to commit foreseeable acts of child sexual abuse or assault,” the complaint alleges.

The city and Seamen’s Society’s displayed “a reckless or willful disregard for the safety and well-being of plaintiff and other children,” contends the complaint.

The defendants knew or should have known that sexual abuse in foster homes and temporary housing was “a serious and recurrent problem,” the complaint alleges.

Corrective and preventive measures were needed to prevent such abuse; however, the city and Seamen’s Society failed to follow through, maintains the complaint.

A spokesman for the city Law Department said the city will review the lawsuit. He declined further comment.

The Seamen’s Society did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the allegations.