PLATTSBURGH — The day M.G. turned 23, he lost the chance to sue his childhood abuser. Now, nearly three decades later, the Child Victims Act has returned his voice.
In his lawsuit against what was once St. John’s Church and Academy in the city of Plattsburgh, as well as the Diocese of Ogdensburg, M.G. is suing for negligence, no apportionment of liability and outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
M.G. said he had been sexually abused in his mid-teens by former St. John’s priest Father Thomas Squires, who is named in the suit, and, with the state’s updated legislation, the 54-year-old said he was ready to face what his 14-year-old self couldn’t.
“You’ve got the benefit of years of being bruised by life,” M.G. said. “I’m about to tell people and share a very personal story, because I think it’s important to get it out there.
“If my little story can help other people be brave, I think that’s a small risk for me to take on behalf of others who are feeling that shame and guilt and anger in their life around this.”
According to M.G.’s attorney, Michael Pfau, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program had been about money.
Pfau, from a Seattle-based law firm specializing in child sexual abuse cases, said the church had tried to lessen its number of future lawsuits.
“Before the (Child Victims Act) changed, the Catholic diocese started reaching out to people who had called them for decades about their being abused,” Pfau said.
“They, essentially, tried to settle their cases before the law passed.”