ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — No matter how much time has passed, on Wednesday people sexually abused as children will be able to sue the person or organization that holds responsibility.
Under the New York State Child Victim’s Act, victims will have one year to file a claim, with no statute of limitations. Just hours before the law goes into effect, lawyers throughout the state announced lawsuits ready to be filed.
Stacy Benson with Jeff Anderson and Associates says, “The courthouse doors are open. This is something that has been long awaited for 12 long years, at least in the New York Legislature. Thank you to the lawmakers as well who made this possible.”
Anderson and Associates are among the first law firms to announce legal action under the new state law. In Buffalo Tuesday, they announced they’re suing on behalf of 83 victims in Buffalo and 30 in Rochester. At the press conference, the victims claimed abused by Catholic clergy.
The legal action is not just limited to the Catholic Church. Victims are also expected to sue the Boy Scouts, schools, teachers, doctors and others.
“I should be very happy, and I’m not. I’m dead inside,” says one victim.
“It’s been a long time for me. 40 years for me, so…thank you,” adds another victim.
“We have a story to tell and what was done to us is so wrong,” says a victim.
Wednesday opens the one-year window for victims of abuse to come forward. Judith Quinn with the Survivors Network says legal avenues are opening up because in today’s environment, more victims have the courage to come forward.
“Nobody wanted to listen. All they could do was get people together, teach them that it’s always been this secret thing because no one wanted to listen,” says Quinn.
In a statement, the Bishop of Rochester says the Diocese has a steadfast record of responding earnestly to offer counseling and to arrive at settlements. He welcomes the chance to meet with any more victims and offer a personal apology.
With the question lingering of how Catholic Dioceses can pay millions in settlements, (if it comes to that), John Ninfo, a former bankruptcy judge, says filing Chapter 11 might be the best option for all parties. Ninfo says it could resolve these abuse claims in an orderly, efficient, and less costly manner for all involved.
“I call them survivors because they are survivors. Yes, they were victims but they are survivors. It’s on their strength that it brought me forward,” says an abuse victim.