clearn.png
Monday August 19th, 2019 4:46AM

Epstein among targets as door opens to old sex abuse claims

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, schools and hospitals, and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein are some of the targets named in a flurry of sex abuse lawsuits filed Wednesday in New York as the state began accepting cases once blocked by the statute of limitations.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits were filed as plaintiffs rushed to take advantage of the one-year litigation window, created by state lawmakers this year to give people who say they were victims a second chance to sue over abuse that, in many cases, happened decades ago.

Those suing Wednesday include a woman who says she was raped by Epstein as a teenager in 2002. She filed against Epstein's estate and three of his associates. Similar lawsuits from other women who say they were abused by Epstein are expected.

Other suits filed Wednesday include one from 45 former Rockefeller University Hospital patients who say a renowned endocrinologist molested hundreds of boys over more than three decades.

Hundreds of others sued the Catholic Church or one of its several New York dioceses. Among them is Peter Vajda, who said a religious brother molested him when he attended a Catholic boarding school in the Bronx in the early 1950s.

"Now it's their turn. Now it's their time," said Vajda, now 75 and a Georgia resident. "And I want them to get everything they deserve in the way of punishment."

Another suit filed Wednesday accused former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard, who retired in 2014, of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy in the 1990s.

An attorney for Hubbard, 80, denied the claim.

"I can tell you without any hesitancy that the allegation is categorically false," Terrance O'Connor said.

The state's statute of limitations had been among the nation's most restrictive before state lawmakers extended it earlier this year for new cases. The Child Victims Act gives victims until age 55 to file lawsuits and until age 28 to seek criminal charges, compared with 23 under the old statute.

That law, which passed following more than a decade of debate in Albany, also created the litigation window.

"This is a momentous time for courageous survivors who have waited so long for justice in New York," said Jeff Anderson, an attorney whose firm, New York-based Jeff Anderson & Associates, filed molestation lawsuits Wednesday on behalf of hundreds of clients.

Institutions that have long cared for children — such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, as well as private and public schools and hospitals — are girding for what could be a devastating financial blow. A similar law passed in 2002 in California resulted in Catholic dioceses there paying $1.2 billion in legal settlements.

A compensation fund for sexual abuse victims set up by the New York Archdiocese in 2016 has paid out $65 million to 323 people, the archdiocese says. Those victims have waived their right to file lawsuits. The archdiocese is also suing more than two dozen insurance companies in an effort to compel them to cover abuse claims, anticipating that insurers won't pay the claims filed during the litigation window.

The leaders of the Catholic diocese covering Long Island have been working "for months with financial and legal experts to prepare for this day," according to a statement, which added that parish donations aren't being used to fund victim compensation.

"Our Church continues to suffer as a result of past sins of sexual abuse of minors," said Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. "Victim survivors of abuse and their families also continue to carry the terrible effects of that abuse."

Brian Toale, one of those who pushed lawmakers to approve the litigation window, said the lawsuits are as much about empowering victims as financial compensation. Toale, 66, said he was molested by an employee at a Catholic high school he attended on Long Island.

Toale's suit against the Catholic Church was filed early Wednesday.

"Every time a survivor comes forward, there's another survivor who finds the strength," Toale said.

Advocates, mental health experts and victims themselves say it often takes years for people molested as children to speak out about their trauma, even to a loved one. Sometimes victims say they didn't think they'd be believed. Others say the shame, embarrassment and fear were too much to overcome.

"We only get one childhood, one adolescence," said Jack Traub, a 55-year-old Staten Island attorney who says he was molested by a doctor at Rockefeller University Hospital 45 years ago. He said that as a result of the trauma, he's had trouble forming and maintaining normal relationships all his life. "I can't go back. It is what it is."

Traub is one of 45 plaintiffs in the suit filed against Rockefeller just minutes after the window opened by the Seattle-based firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, which also filed cases against the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church.

The doctor, Reginald Archibald, has been accused of molesting hundreds of child patients over a 30-year period. He died in 2007. Rockefeller contacted former patients, offered free counseling and conducted an internal investigation that found Archibald "engaged in acts of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse toward many of his patients."

"Rockefeller University is committed to acting responsibly and working constructively with former patients of Dr. Archibald," the hospital said in a statement. "We profoundly apologize to his patients who experienced pain and suffering as a result of his reprehensible conduct."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump official: Statue of Liberty's poem is about Europeans
Acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services says inscription on Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to US is about 'people coming from Europe'
12:13PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Ex-Blackwater contractor sentenced to life in Iraq shootings
A federal judge has sentenced a former Blackwater security contractor to life in prison for his role in the 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq
12:08PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Epstein among targets as door opens to old sex abuse claims
The Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, schools and hospitals, and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein are some of the targets named in a flurry of sex abuse lawsuits filed in New York
12:07PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
A$AP Rocky found guilty of Sweden assault, won't face prison
American rapper A$AP Rocky was found guilty of assault Wednesday by a Swedish court
11:25AM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: Flurry of molestation suits filed in New York
The Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein are among the defendants facing sex abuse lawsuits in New York
11:20AM ( 57 minutes ago )
O'Rourke resuming presidential run with 'major' Texas speech
Democrat Beto O'Rourke is formally rejoining the presidential race with what he says will be a 'major address to the nation' from his hometown of El Paso, Texas, where a mass shooting killed 22 people
11:13AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
European opera houses await LA investigation into Domingo
While two U.S. opera houses immediately canceled performances by famed tenor Placido Domingo following sexual harassment allegations, European opera houses are taking stances ranging from supportive to wait-and-see
10:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
A$AP Rocky found guilty of assault by Swedish court
A Swedish court on Wednesday found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm that drew the close attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.
9:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Pakistani PM reiterates support to Kashmiris on Indian side
Pakistan's prime minister has assured people in the Indian-administered part of disputed Kashmir that he supports them in their struggle for self-determination
9:26AM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Monarch symbol of species in crisis as US protections shrink
Monarch butterflies are among the struggling species that will be more difficult to protect as the Trump administration moves to weaken the Endangered Species Act
11:22AM ( 55 minutes ago )
Administration takes step to relax trucker drive-time rules
The Trump administration has taken a step closer to relaxing federal rules governing the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel
10:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
Ex-Treasury chief: Boris Johnson is wrecking Brexit deal
Britain's former top finance official is accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government of steering the country toward a damaging no-deal Brexit that isn't backed by Parliament or the voters
10:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Chief: Smoke detectors lacking at child care where 5 died
A fire chief says there weren't enough working smoke detectors at a Pennsylvania home day care center where a fire killed five children
6:28PM ( 17 hours ago )
Police divided on whether Dayton gunman targeted sister
Authorities piecing together what led to the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, say it is not clear if the gunman targeted his sister
5:37PM ( 18 hours ago )
Chief: Lack of smoke detectors at day care where kids died
A fire chief says there weren't enough working smoke detectors at a Pennsylvania home day care center where a fire killed five children
5:07PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump official: Statue of Liberty's poem is about Europeans
Acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services says inscription on Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to US is about 'people coming from Europe'
12:13PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Ex-Blackwater contractor sentenced to life in Iraq shootings
A federal judge has sentenced a former Blackwater security contractor to life in prison for his role in the 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq
12:08PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Musician Zac Brown loses bid to limit access to Alaska home
Country musician Zac Brown has lost a bid to limit public access to his property in Alaska
11:44AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Flights resume at Hong Kong airport as protesters apologize
Flights have resumed at Hong Kong's airport after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence that highlight the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city
11:34AM ( 43 minutes ago )
'Chrisley Knows Best' stars due in court on federal charges
Reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley are due in court on federal charges including tax evasion
11:25AM ( 52 minutes ago )