The Diocese of Rockville Centre, Child Sex Abuse, and the Rule of Law
Written By: Thomas P. Giuffra
The NY Post published an article about my courageous client Greg Hein who has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Rockville Centre for sexual abuse when he was a minor. It’s ironic that the lawsuit would have remained just one of 44 filed since January (that’s when the Child Victims Act took effect) against the Diocese of Rockville Centre. It probably would have not received any media attention if it were not for the fact that the Diocese hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on my client. Once I discovered this, I filed an emergency Order to Show Cause to determine how this investigator discovered my client had been in rehabilitation. The investigator even knew the name and contact information of the roommate. In the Affidavit I submitted to the Court, I provided the background history of the Diocese, in particular the 2003 Grand Jury Report which concluded in part, “that the history of the Diocese of Rockville Centre demonstrates that as an institution they are incapable of properly handling issues relating to the sexual abuse of children by priests. The Grand Jury concludes that this was more than simple incompetence. The evidence before the Grand Jury clearly demonstrates that Diocesan officials agreed to engage in conduct that resulted in the prevention, hindrance and delay in the discovery of criminal conduct by priests. They conceived and agreed to a plan using deception and intimidation to prevent victims from seeking legal solutions to their problems. This included victims who were seeking compensation for their injuries in the civil courts. There, Diocesan officials pursued aggressive legal strategies to dismiss time barred claims and improperly named parties. They insisted upon confidentiality agreements in cases that were settled. This policy put children at risk inasmuch as victims were prohibited by law from speaking out about the criminal conduct of sexually abusive priests. Absent the adoption of these recommendations, the Grand Jury does not believe that the Diocese of Rockville Centre has the demonstrated capability to properly handle the issues of clergy sexual abuse.”
Seventeen years later, the Diocese of Rockville Centre hires a private investigator to sully the reputation of my client who mustered the courage to come forward and tell his story of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of the Diocese.
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Earlier this year, the Diocese of Rockville Centre filed a Motion to Dismiss claims against it arguing the Child Victims’ Act was unconstitutional and old claims could not be revived by a new law. Fortunately, for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse, a judge denied the Diocese’s Motion and allowed the lawsuits to move forward.
I look forward to discovering how this private investigator found my client’s protected health information. Our system of justice is based upon transparency and the equitable application of the law to all its citizens. No one and no institution is above the law. We are country governed by the rule of law and that needs to be clear in this particular case most especially.