Diocese of Brooklyn Sued for Nun’s Alleged Sexual Abuse of Boy
By Shant Shahrigian
February 20, 2020
|St. Michael's Academy in Flushing. (Google)|
Charles Pellegrino was just in second grade when he allegedly suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his Catholic school teacher in Queens.
“He was really savagely beaten by this Sister Mary Jeremy — kicked in his groin and otherwise really injured,” his attorney Diane Paolicelli told the Daily News. “He had to leave the school.”
Earlier this week, he became the latest New Yorker to sue the Catholic Church thanks to the Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year window for survivors to seek justice even if the statute of limitations had already expired.
Pellegrino, 66, is suing the Diocese of Brooklyn and its Flushing-based St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Queens Supreme Court for enabling Jeremy to savagely attack him.
“This poor child went through hell,” Paolicelli said of her client’s time at the academy, which came during the 1959-1960 school year.
“It was just brutal. He was just singled out. To him, it was just horrendous,” she added, saying Jeremy would hit Pellegrino in the head and groin in front of his classmates.
“The acts forced upon Plaintiff by Sister Mary Jeremy were aggressive and violent and were done for the purpose of degrading or abusing Plaintiff, and/or gratifying her own sexual desire,” the lawsuit states.
Pellegrino’s parents pulled him out of the school after a series of incidents. He’s “been able to move on with his life,” Paolicelli said, though the suit notes he “continues to suffer great physical and mental pain and anguish” and "loss of spirituality.”
Jeremy, who was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph order, died in 2018, according to the Diocese.
“This is the first time a claim against this person, at this school, has been made known to the Diocese of Brooklyn. We will investigate the allegations,” the Diocese said in a statement.
Last year, Albany passed a law lengthening the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases and creating a “look-back” period for victims to sue. Under the old status quo, victims only had until their 23rd birthday to seek justice.
Paolicelli estimates “scores” of victims have sued the Diocese since the one-year window opened on Aug. 14.
“It’s just a horrible, horrible situation that has kind of been shoved under the rug for many years just because these victims were unable to sue,” the lawyer said.