Speaking Out Against Child Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

"I'm motivated more by anger... The church should be ashamed." Alleged victims of child sex abuse by the Catholic Church in New York can finally sue — and they’re speaking out.

The law revived previously expired claims

Hundreds of child sex abuse claims have been filed in New York since the Child Victims Act went into effect in August 2019 — including claims against priests, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, coaches, doctors. Some of the claims are now decades old. Richard Cardillo and James Burke faced abuse in the 1970s. They’re 2 of the hundreds of survivors of abuse within the Catholic Church who have filed lawsuits now that a one-year window for filing old civil claims has opened. NY State legislature Cardillo fought for nearly a decade to get the CVA passed.

NY courthouse before the passing of the CVA child sex abuse survivors in New York had to bring civil lawsuits against their abusers by the time they turned 23. Now, the CVA allows survivors until the age of 55 to file suits and a one-year “lookback window” to file civil actions against perpetrators — no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. The lawsuits contain allegations of sexual abuse of children and teens by priests, ministers, youth organization leaders and teachers including fondling, oral sex and sodomy against defendants including the Archdiocese of New York, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, the Diocese of Rochester, Catholic Charities, Covenant House, the Franciscan Friars Province of the Immaculate Conception, the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.

These lawsuits seek financial compensation for these innocent victims of sexual abuse. Catholic dioceses are named as defendants in about three-quarters of the cases, with Buffalo having the most of the seven other Catholic dioceses in New York. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester became the first diocese in New York to file for bankruptcy protection, claiming it faces massive judgements for past sexual abuse within its organization. Supporters of the Child Victims Act, which went into effect last month, had little sympathy for the diocese and others who may also go the bankruptcy route.