Child Victims Act brings ‘hope’ to formerly abused kids: lawyer
By Priscilla Degregory, Elizabeth Rosner And Lia Eustachewich
New York Post
August 14, 2019
| Lawyer Jeffrey Herman holds multiple lawsuits filed Wednesday on behalf of survivors of sex abuse. |
Photo by Gregory P. Mango
|Auset Love hugs her attorney after she filed a lawsuit alleging she was abused by a teacher starting at the age of 9.|
|Lex Filipowski gathered with several other Catholic Church victims at the civil courthouse in lower Manhattan.|
Photo by Gregory P. Mango
Hundreds of lawsuits hit state courts across New York on Wednesday, the first day the new Child Victims Act was in effect — with the majority of complaints targeting the Catholic Church.The names of more than 60 alleged predator priests were made public for the very first time in more than 275 suits filed by just two law firms against various dioceses.
“Today is a new day. It’s a day of hope,” said attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference. “It’s a day in which . . . the survivors have an opportunity to not only have a voice but have their voice heard and through a public forum.”
One of Anderson’s clients, Jordan Caramanno, was a 16-year-old junior at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School on Staten Island when he was allegedly molested by Monsignor John Paddack.
Paddack, he said, then tried to use his powerful position to silence the then-teen. “That was a very dark time in my life,” Caramanno said of the alleged abuse that occurred in 2001 and 2002. But Caramanno, 34, had a message for his alleged abuser, “You can’t run and hide anymore.”
He, like many others is suing the Archdiocese of New York, as well as St. Joseph by-the-Sea. Reached by phone, Paddack slammed Caramanno’s accusations as “totally false. Totally 100% false.”
Fifteen CVA suits naming three previously unnamed abusers were also filed on behalf of some 170 alleged child sex abuse survivors by the law firm Seeger Weiss LLP.
“Survivors will no longer be silenced,” said Stephen Weiss.
The CVA opened up a one-year window for survivors to file civil actions against abusers, regardless of how long ago the incident happened. Such claims were previously barred under the state’s statute of limitations.
Lex Filipowski, 54, filed his suit some 44 years after his alleged abuse stopped.
The Fishkill resident became an altar boy at age 7 at Holy Cross Church in Middletown when Father George Boxelaar allegedly began preying on him. The abuse lasted for four years, he claimed. “It’s a very emotional day, and it’s been 30 years since I’ve been attempting to get justice against the Catholic Church,” Filipowski said, adding he had gone to the Archdiocese of New York with his allegations.
“When I told the person on the phone what Father George did to me, he said, ‘Oh, the reason that Father George did those things to you is because he couldn’t express his feelings,’ ” Filipowski recalled. “No compassion, no care. An insane attempt of justifying the horrific sex crimes he did to me.” Boxelaar died at age 81 in 1990, according to the Times Herald-Record.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, there were 427 CVA suits filed in the state, including 169 across the five boroughs, according to court spokesman Lucian Chalfen. Others were filed against institutions including the Boy Scouts of America and Rockefeller University Hospital, long accused of letting late pediatrician Reginald Archibald molest hundreds of children under the guise of medical research.
A Rockefeller University spokeswoman said, “We profoundly apologize to his patients who experienced pain and suffering as a result of his reprehensible conduct.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York said the influx of suits had been anticipated. The archdiocese has been paying sex abuse victims as part of its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. So far, 335 victims have been paid more than $66 million.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan posted a video on Twitter calling Wednesday “a dark time in the life of the Church.”
“I just want to say that it is a tough time, it is a dark time, it’s especially difficult for our beloved victims,” Dolan said.