Since Aug. 14, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across New York State related to the Child Victims Act, which went into effect that day. The law, signed in February by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives a one-year grace period, eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims. Suits have already been filed against every Catholic diocese in the state, Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations.
Marsh Law Firm PLLC and Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala PLLC filed a suit against Rockefeller University on Aug. 14 with 45 plaintiffs. They claim to represent 200 sexual abuse survivors of Dr. Reginald Archibald, a professor and physician employed at the university for approximately 40 years. Several of the plaintiffs that filed suit are from Long Island.
“It’s probably one of, if not the largest, sexual abuse cases in the United States,” said attorney Michael Pfau.
“This is the reality,” said Pfau, who plans to subpoena the diocese’s secret archives. “Thousands of kids were abused by Catholic priests and thousands of kids were abused by Boy Scout leaders and kids were also abused in camps, foster homes and schools. This is a big societal problem.”
“Bankruptcy is a strategic tool that Catholic dioceses use for various purposes, one of which is to avoid jury trials,” Pfau said. “We can’t keep them from filing bankruptcy, but if they do, we work with the creditors’ counsel to identify and marshal all the available assets.”
Marsh Law Firm and Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amalia PLLC partnered to file two lawsuits against the Rockville Centre Diocese. Plaintiff S.T. was a stand-alone lawsuit and the other seven plaintiffs were grouped together:
- Charles D’Estries was allegedly abused by Father William Karvelis at St. Patricks, Bay Shore, and took trips to Father Karvelis’ home from 1968 to 1970 while the plaintiff was 13 to 15 years old.
- Plaintiff K.L. was allegedly abused by Father John Mahoney at St. Barnabas, Bellmore, including in the sacristy and during altar boy services, in 1968 while the plaintiff was 10 years old.
- Jeffrey Kreutz was allegedly abused by Father Steven Peterson in the rectory of Good Shepherd, Holbrook, and St. Joseph’s, Ronkonkoma, during counseling sessions and visits to Kreutz at a juvenile detention center from 1972 to 1978 while the plaintiff was 10 to 16 years old.
- Plaintiff G.E.P. was allegedly abused by Father William Burke during school activities and in a room at St. Lawrence Parochial School, Sayille, in 1972 while the plaintiff was 7 years old.
- Plaintiff Gerald Dacuk was allegedly abused by Father William Burke and Father Alfred Soave during school activities and rooms in St. Andrews, Sag Harbor, from 1974 to 1979 while the plaintiff was 8 to 14 years old.
- Plaintiff Paul Kustes was allegedly abused by Father Charles Ribaudo during school activities and in Ribaudo’s office at Holy Trinity High School, Hicksville, in 1977 while the plaintiff was 15 to 16 years old.
- Plaintiff J.E.D. was allegedly abused by Father Joseph Kozlowski during school activities and altar boy services at St. Hyacinth, Glen Head, and All Saints Regional Catholic School, Glen Head, from 1991 to 1992 while the plaintiff was 7 years old.
- Plaintiff S.T. was allegedly abused by Father Joesph McComiskey at St. James and Phillip, St. James, including during a camping trip in 1976 while the plaintiff was 16 years old.