ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We’re learning more about a lawsuit a woman with ties to Rochester has filed against the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
She alleges that the State was negligent in its duties when her mother was sexually abused while a patient at the Monroe Developmental Center back in the 1980s.
Because the state was responsible for coordinating services with this facility, Plaintiff Magdalena Cruz is accusing the agency of allowing the alleged sexual assault and other possible abuse of her mother to go on without investigation.
Because of the medical conditions of her mother and the severe developmental disabilities, her mom was and is treated for, Magdalena Cruz always knew her birth was most likely due to a nonconsensual act.
Cruz alleges Administrators of the Monroe Development Center told her family at that time it suspected a resident had committed the act. So, she was not expecting to uncover what she now claims occurred.
“The least that they could have done was report the crime to the police,” Cruz argued. “And at least allow the police to do an investigation.”
In the lawsuit, Cruz alleges results from the use of a genealogical and DNA-related website revealed her DNA had a match with potential individuals that could be relatives living in another state.
After digging online, Cruz claims one of the matches had a father who lived in the Rochester area and may have worked at the facility her mom lived in. She contacted Brighton Police to relay the information and states they confirmed her findings, adding a detective went to question him.
“I later let him know the specific name of the man I suspected,” Cruz continued. “He asked me for some pictures of that man, he found out where he lived, and indicated he would interview him.”
Due to the statute of limitations and the time that has passed since the incident occurred, criminal charges cannot be filed. But under the Adult Survivors Act, Cruz’s mother does qualify for civil claims against the state.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Magdalena’s mother argues the State failed to protect her mother and “committed intentional or negligent acts for psychological injury” suffered by her mother.
“The Justice is one, getting this out there and making them accountable for the fact they did not investigate,” Cruz added. “I’m looking for financial compensation so that my mother can be taken out of institutional care and I want the state to pay for that.”
Cruz’s lawyers are also concerned there are other former patients who suffered while in the care of the Monroe Development Center. And urge them to investigate as Cruz did.
“This situation only arose and was discovered because her mother became pregnant,” Attorney Carrie Goldberg said. “And we don’t how many other instances of abuse her mother experienced after that.”
According to the lawsuit, at least 10 staff members and volunteers at the Monroe Development Center from 1976-1985 were identified as pedophiles and rapists according to case records and local news reports at the time.
We reached out to the Brighton Police Department who declined to comment due to this being an alleged sexual assault case where they did not make an arrest.
In a statement just released to News 8, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities told us they have a “zero-tolerance policy against abuse.
OPWDD has strengthened our system in the areas of discipline, hiring, staff training, and quality improvement over the past several decades.” They could not comment further on pending litigation.
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