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Religious Institutions Rocked By Child Sexual Abuse Scandals

Posted in Sexual Abuse on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

Shocking allegations surrounding established religious institutions in New York City have been taking the religious community by storm following the extension of the Child Victims Act of New York. Unfortunately, child sex abuse scandals by these organizations have long been part of New York City’s history. While you or a loved one may be suffering from the effects of sexual abuse in NYC, the offices of Soloff & Zervanos are here to provide practical help in the form of New York City sexual abuse attorneys to attend to your legal needs.

Child Victims Act Finds Justice For Thousands

The Child Victims Act (CVA) was an act written by New York state lawmakers and passed in 2019. The law changed the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes in the state. Previously, a victim of a sex crime under the age of 18 only had until the age of 23 to file a claim. Under the CVA, anyone under the age of 56 is able to sue for these crimes. There was additionally a window that was created under this act, creating a “look-back” scenario in which people who experienced abuse as a child in the 1970s or earlier were allowed to file claims. This sparked thousands of lawsuits being filed throughout New York over the past two years, most notably in New York City.

Numerous Jewish institutions have seen a large number of new claims in the area, with Yeshiva University and the SAR Academy receiving the most number of lawsuits. Manhattan and the Bronx are two of the most afflicted boroughs of New York City, with summer camps, schools, community centers, foster care agencies, and synagogues being among the most cited locations for abuse. One particular case at the SAR Academy of the Bronx has seen a single teacher, Stanley Rosenfeld, admitting to molesting hundreds of young boys over the course of his life.

As some cases have hundreds of plaintiffs involved, many religious institutions have begun to scramble. During the look-back window, four of the eight Roman Catholic dioceses in New York filed for bankruptcy protection, including the largest one in the country – the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island. A survivor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Rich Cardillo, issuing them over sexual assault he claims to have experienced as a teenager. He is an example of many of the hardships that victims of child sex assault face on a daily basis, stating that he was later unsure of his sexuality, felt incompatible in romantic relationships, and more that negatively impacted his life for decades to come.

The Boy Scouts of America is another organization facing huge financial fallouts for its alleged participation in sexual abuse of young boys. While facing the issue through lawsuits brought back feelings of anguish and distress for many, others were relieved such as 51-year-old Michael J. Porchenick Allen of Long Island who – while attending Boy Scouts gatherings and outings – alleges he experienced abuse by Scout leader Dennis Pfleger for four years. To prevent details of the abuse from coming to light, the Boy Scouts are trying to convince persecuting parties to reach mass settlements. This happened as the organization attempts to file for bankruptcy protection, just as the Roman Catholic dioceses of New York are doing as well.

Experts Unsettled By The Potential Extent Of These Cases

While we only have some numbers surrounding the amount of child sexual abuse scandals that have occurred in New York City, experts estimate that the real numbers could be much higher as many choose not to come forward out of fear of public backlash or humiliation. Additionally, the CVA only originally provided a one-year window for new lawsuits to be filed – only being extended another year due to the pandemic which many argue is not enough time for all the lawsuits to be properly filed.

At Soloff & Zervanos, we understand that the legal process surrounding a sexual abuse case can be difficult and emotionally taxing. Our competitive New York City sexual abuse attorneys are here to help you seek damages for the abuse you have suffered. Please call 215-732-2260 or click here to reach out to us and find the justice you deserve.