US

Child Molestation Lawsuits Flood New York Courts, Thousands More Expected

By Miguel Moreno

NEW YORK—Hundreds of lawsuits for child molestation flooded New York courts as the Child Victims Act (CVA) came into effect on Aug. 14.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the CVA into law in February.

The law does a few things to benefit those claiming to have been victims of child molestation, such as opening a one-year litigation window, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

“After I shared what Father George Boxelaar had done to me, I was told, ‘Oh, the reason Father George did those things to you was because he didn’t know how to express his feelings,” Leonard Filipowski said out front of the County Supreme Court. “And that was it.”

Alleged victim of child molestation Leonard Filipoweski
Plaintiff Leonard Filipowski speaks out front of the New York County Supreme Court on Aug. 14, 2019. (Miguel Moreno/NTD News)

Filipowski said he is suing the Archdiocese of New York. It was clear that talking about the past was difficult for Filipowski; he nearly lost his composure as he shared some details. He was joined by many more alleged victims, including one from Massachusetts—a state that passed a similar measure in 2014.

“This abuse went on for four years, when I was a student and a child—eight years old,” said 50-year-old Andre Jones, who made his case three years ago against the Archdiocese of Boston. “My case is still pending, it’s still in process.”

Alleged victim of child molestation Andre Jones
Plaintiff Andre Jones interviewed by NTD News out front of the New York County Supreme Court on Aug. 14, 2019. (Miguel Moreno/NTD News)

The Archdiocese of New York did not immediately respond to a request from NTD for comment.

Besides religious institutions, public schools and hospitals are also subject to the new law.

In addition to the new litigation window, alleged victims of child sex abuse can now also file a lawsuit anytime before they reach 55 years of age. In the past, cases had to be made before 23 years of age.

A Spate of Cases Expected

Over 400 cases were filed by 5 p.m on Wednesday, as was expected. In a press release, the New York Unified Court System stated that it had already “designated 45 judges statewide—including 12 in New York City’s five boroughs—to prepare for the influx of lawsuits.”

Since Monday, press conferences and rallies have prepared alleged survivors, the media, and the soon-to-be-sued institutions for the new law. Among those institutions was the Boy Scouts of America.

In an email comment to NTD concerning the lawsuits, the Boy Scouts said that they “support retroactive reforms of civil statute of limitations if an organization knowingly concealed or otherwise withheld evidence of wrongdoing.”

They also apologized to any victims of abuse, saying, “We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.”

Boy Scout of America
A Boy Scout listens to instruction at camp Maple Dell on July 31, 2015 outside Payson, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

The Boy Scouts have kept a database called the “Ineligible Volunteer Files,” or the Perversion Files, since the 1920s, according Jeff Anderson & Associates. These files contain accounts of sexual misconduct, showing that the organization has been aware of the problem for a very long time.

Jeff Anderson uploaded a portion of the files onto his website.

Winfred Burrus, a 57-year-old from Brooklyn, announced he would sue the Boy Scouts. Burns said he was molested by a scoutmaster.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.