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New York Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Advocacy Lawyers for Child Victims of Physical & Sexual Abuse

New York State recently passed the “Child Victims Act,” which will allow victims up to the age of 55 years old to file lawsuits against their abusers. Our firm is aggressively litigating civil lawsuits on behalf of abuse victims.

We provide confidential consultations with your choice of a male or female attorney. Proporcionamos consultas confidenciales con su elección de un abogado hombre o mujer.

Over the last 30 years, Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP has helped injury victims and their families recover over $2 billion in relief. If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse, our team encourages you to take action immediately. We are ready to help you assess our legal options and, if necessary, take an aggressive approach to recover the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.

What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse includes any instance of sexual advances, harassment, or assault of a minor. In religious organization settings, cases commonly involve priests and other church leaders forcing or coercing young church members to engage in abusive acts.

A sexual abuse case may center on incidents such as:

  • Rape
  • Molestation
  • Harassment
  • Coercion
  • Sharing of sexual images or messages

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

It’s important to understand the signs of sexual abuse in children, as children may be unable to speak up for themselves or even unaware that what is happening is, in fact, abuse.

Some of the signs of sexual abuse in children include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Trouble walking or sitting
  • Fear of being left alone
  • General anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sudden change in behavior

Child Sexual Abuse: Criminal Charges vs. Civil Liability

Sexual abuse is a crime. A perpetrator can be charged with a crime and sentenced to jail time or fines to punish them for committing abuse. Although abusers can be held accountable in criminal court, civil lawsuits provide victims with another outlet for justice.

The goal of sexual abuse civil lawsuits is to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice to victims in the form of financial compensation. In sexual abuse cases, the resulting damages are primarily non-economic: pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Who Can You Sue for Physical, Psychological & Sexual Abuse Injuries?

Sadly, child sexual abuse can occur in many different situations and be perpetuated by numerous different individuals.

At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, we are prepared to represent victims of sexual abuse in a variety of cases, including those involving the following entities:

  • Catholic Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • United Methodist Church
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Baptist Church
  • Temples and Synagogues
  • Daycare providers
  • Boy Scouts
  • YMCA
  • Public and private grade schools, high schools, and colleges
  • Boarding schools
  • Doctors and hospitals
  • Foster care agencies

Victims of abuse can suffer from a wide range of acute and permanent injuries. These are often documented in past and current medical treatment records. We work with our clients in a respectful and meaningful way to establish claims without re-traumatizing victims.

Childhood Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in New York

The state of New York has extended existing statute of limitations laws that govern the claim timeline of sexual abuse and assault cases. The Child Victims Act, which was passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in late 2019, established new guidelines for childhood sexual abuse lawsuits in the state.

People who were sexually abused as children can now file lawsuits against abusers and other responsible parties until they are 55 years of age. Additionally, prosecutors can now charge perpetrators until an accuser reaches 28 years of age.

The Child Victims Act also includes a provision for some time in which all childhood sexual abuse and assault claims will be considered, regardless of when an incident occurred, an accuser’s current age, or the validity of their claim under the previous statute of limitations laws. From August 14, 2019, to August 13, 2020, there will be no statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases.

Where Will My Child’s Settlement Come From? Who Pays the Settlement?

As your lawyers, we determine the appropriate defendants and what assets they have. Tracing defendants and their successor entities who may be subject to liability may take time but is necessary for a complete recovery. While defendants may set up settlement programs with categorized awards, our firm carefully consults with each client to determine what resolution is best, which may include a trial.

If your or someone you love was abused, it’s time to take action. Our New York child sexual abuse lawyers are here to help. Contact us to request a free case evaluation today.

Contact our compassionate New York sexual abuse attorneys at (212) 684-1880 today.

Child Sexual Abuse by Priests

In recent years, the history of assaults and pattern of abuse that has existed in the Catholic Church for years has become highly publicized. A scandal that was once cloaked in secrecy is now a well-known fact. As a result, many victims of these atrocities have felt empowered to share their stories and achieve justice against this powerful institution.

The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church did not begin with the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston in January 2002. However, that was the moment when the media and the general public began to recognize a pattern of sexual abuse of children and the Catholic Church’s inept and corrupt manner in which it handled abusive priests.

The cases involving Fr. Gilbert Gauthe and Fr. James Porter are indicative of the Catholic Church’s culture of abuse. Fr. Gilbert Gauthe served as a Catholic priest from 1972 until 1983 and admitted to molesting 37 children during his tenure as a Catholic priest. Fr. James Porter molested more than 100 children over a three-decade reign of terror. It was until the 1990s that his dark past became public. The Diocese of Fall River knew that he was sexually abusing children as early as 1960. In spite of Porter’s admission to the Pope that he was molesting children, the Pope never contacted the civil authorities. He was removed from the priesthood quietly and was allowed to continue molesting children because the Pope did not contact any law enforcement about what he knew about serious criminal behavior.

The Catholic Church’s response to the Gauthe and Porter cases was particularly crude and unsympathetic toward the survivors of sexual abuse. Anyone who came forward with allegations against a Catholic priest was considered an enemy of the Church and accused of sin because they had the audacity to speak publicly about a priest.

The Catholic Church’s response to these early warning signs of a systemic problem consisted of feigning ignorance and attacking the survivors. The bishops claimed that they relied on psychological experts for recommendations concerning the abusive priests and had no idea of the impact of childhood sexual abuse. They also did everything in their power to cover up for the priests and save the Church from scandal. Their own files, which are kept meticulously, are evidence of this.

Disclaimer: The Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP Firm does not intend to convey that the sex abuse crisis involves every Catholic priest, but rather a minority of priests.

Child Sexual Abuse in the Boy Scouts of America Organization

The Boy Scouts were typified by virtue-based activity founded upon life skills that would build natural virtues, as well as provide a lifetime of practical skills for every circumstance. The rugged skills learned by the young scouts attracted others and the Boy Scouts of America was born.

What began as American society’s solution to the problems posed by adolescence has turned into a national disgrace as well as the moral and financial bankruptcy of a cultural icon—the Boy Scouts of America recently filed for bankruptcy after spending the last few decades staving off sexual abuse lawsuits filed by scouts themselves against their scout leaders.

The Boy Scouts’ own rules and regulations point to their own recognition that such a problem could arise. They had a two-deep rule and many other safeguards that should have prevented sexual abuse from happening. Yet, it happened anyway.

The two-deep rule states, “Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings. There must be a registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over in every unit serving females. A registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over must be present for any activity involving female youth. Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided. All adults accompanying a Scouting unit who are present at the activity for 72 total hours or more must be registered as leaders. The 72 hours need not be consecutive. One-on-one contact between adult leaders and youth members is prohibited both inside and outside of Scouting.”

Some abuse advocates lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Scout leadership. Leaders allowed adults working with scouts to ignore the rules, particularly the two-deep rule. In 2010, a far more insidious fact was publicly revealed about the scouting organization. For decades, almost since its inception, the leaders of the Boy Scouts maintained “Perversion Files” a.k.a. “Ineligible Volunteer Files” which were secret files of scout leaders who had sexually abused minors or made them unsuited to mentor children. These files were confidential and kept out of the public eye for decades until a sexual abuse lawsuit revealed their existence. Once revealed, the public was stunned to learn that the Boy Scouts had kept such files on hundreds of adult volunteers who had abused children. In almost every instance, a Scout file was created but law enforcement was not notified. This allowed the problem to fester and grow, implicating not only those who had committed the atrocities but Boy Scout leadership itself for covering up the crimes.

In mid-February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court, effectively halting hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits against the organization. The bankruptcy filing in Delaware has yet to announce a deadline for Boy Scout abuse claims to be filed. The deadline is important for anyone who was sexually abused as a scout. Once the deadline has passed, it will be very difficult to make a claim against the Boy Scouts for abuse that happened before the bankruptcy filing.

Like many Catholic dioceses in the United States, the bankruptcy filing will put an end to the endless stream of abuse lawsuits. Once the deadline has passed, only allegations that concern abuse after the date of the bankruptcy will be considered.

Sexual Abuse in Religious Organizations

For many people, the church can be a source of spiritual reflection, education, and comfort. Sadly, religious organizations are also commonly identified in cases of sexual abuse, particularly of young children. The victims of heinous, abusive acts can achieve a form of justice by filing a lawsuit against the people who are responsible for their suffering.

In sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is responsible for their actions and can be held accountable in both criminal and civil court. However, civil cases allow victims to hold responsible third parties accountable as well. This may include church administration and church or school officials who failed to do what they could to prevent abuse.

In a civil case, the following parties could be held liable for sexual abuse in religious organizations:

  • Church leaders
  • Members of a church
  • Church organizations and administration
  • Security personnel
  • Other officials

Sexual abuse claims are subject to a statute of limitations. This means that a claim must be filed within a certain amount of time to be considered viable.

New York state law is sensitive to the plight of sexual abuse survivors. A person who has been sexually assaulted may not be ready to bring their case forward right away or may not understand the extent of the impact of abuse until years later. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in a religious organization can file a civil case until the age of 55 years old. A parent or guardian can file a lawsuit on behalf of their child.

Child Sexual Abuse in Schools

School is thought of as a safe place to send our children to learn and expand their knowledge. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to several types of abuse, including sexual abuse during and after school hours. Sexual abuse could be from teachers, coaches, and school administrates, happening to both boys and girls. In many instances, the abusers use their position to take advantage of innocent students. Schools are responsible for the safety of our children and for properly supervising and protecting them. Schools should be a place where parents feel safe to send their children and be certain they are protected from abuse.

There are too many sad stories of past and current sexual abuse at all types of schools. Our school sexual abuse lawyers litigate against any school. It is important to note that claims notices may need to be filed within 90 days when city public and residential schools are involved.

A Legacy of Success in High-Profile Sexual Abuse Cases

Our partner Sherri Plotkin is a leader in our sexual abuse litigation department. Along with our trial partner, Thomas Giuffra, the two take and prosecute high-profile cases. Both have significant settlements and verdicts against schools and government entities.

Contact Us Today

If you or your child was the victim of sexual abuse, turn to the New York child sexual abuse attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP for the compassionate, personalized legal guidance you need. You deserve to have your voice heard, as well as a chance at a fair recovery. Let us fight for you.

Call (212) 684-1880 or contact us online for a completely free and private consultation. There are no attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.