Seeking Justice for Survivors of Catholic Church Sex Abuse

If you were sexually abused by a Catholic priest or other member of a Catholic church anywhere in New York, you may have grounds to pursue financial compensation.

Thanks to various investigations, legal filings, and internal record releases, we know that hundreds of children were sexually abused by priests and clergy members in all eight of New York’s Catholic Dioceses.

Records have also revealed that church leadership woefully failed to protect victims by shielding predator priests from consequences and enabling a pervasive abuse problem that dates back decades.

Now, a growing number of survivors across New York are taking advantage of new laws and groundbreaking legislation to seek justice from the Church.

At Levy Konigsberg, our Catholic church sex abuse attorneys in New York can help you take the next steps in your legal journey. Our firm is a top-rated trial practice known nationally for litigating civil sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions and religious organizations, like the Catholic Church.

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Who Can File a Lawsuit?

You may have grounds to file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the Catholic Church if:

  • You were sexually abused by a priest, church volunteer, or other clergy member.
  • The abuse occurred at a church within any of New York’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses (Diocese of Albany, Diocese of Brooklyn, Diocese of Buffalo, Diocese of Ogdensburg, Diocese of Rochester, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Diocese of Syracuse, or the Archdiocese of New York).

At Levy Konigsberg, we support survivors in civil actions that aim to hold dioceses accountable for their failures to stop abusive priests and protect victims. These civil claims are separate from any criminal proceedings and focus on holding the church liable for damages.

This means that you may still have a claim even if:

  • Your abuser is no longer alive.
  • Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.

Compensation for Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse

In addition to accountability and providing the sense of justice survivors deserve, civil sex abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:

  • Past medical and mental health expenses
  • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and psychological harm
  • Lost income
  • Other economic and non-economic damages

Extended Filing Deadlines for Sexual Abuse Survivors in NY

New York has been a frontrunner in expanding the rights of sexual abuse survivors and passing groundbreaking legislation to help them seek justice. These laws, which focus on sexual abuse claims filed in civil court, include both the New York Child Victims’ Act and the New York Adult Survivors Act.

  • NY Child Victims Act. Passed in 2019, the New York Child Victims Act opened unprecedented legal pathways for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The Act extended the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims, giving survivors until the age of 55 to file lawsuits, and created a temporary lookback window (which was open from 2019 to 2021) that allowed survivors to file lawsuits barred by the previous statute of limitations. The CVA was a critical factor in opening the door to hundreds of lawsuits against NY Catholic Dioceses, which prompted five of the state’s eight Dioceses to file for bankruptcy.
  • NY Adult Survivors Act. The New York Adult Survivors Act was another groundbreaking law passed for the benefit of survivors who were sexually abused when they were 18 or older. Like the CVA, the Adult Survivors Act created a temporary lookback window for survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past. That window opened on November 24, 2022 and will end on November 24, 2023.

Do I Still Have Time to File a Lawsuit?

For survivors who were sexually abused in New York Catholic Churches, the Child Victim’s Act and Adult Survivors Act have provided important opportunities to hold the church accountable – even when abuse occurred years or decades ago.

And while some components of these laws have since expired – for example, the CVA’s temporary lookback window, which was open between 2019 and 2021 – hundreds of survivors of child and adult sexual abuse still have the right to file claims. That’s because:

  • The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits, allowing survivors abused as minors to file claims until age 55.
  • The Adult Survivors Act window remains open until November 24, 2023, giving survivors abused as adults an opportunity to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.

Our NY clergy abuse lawyers at Levy Konigsberg have helped numerous survivors file claims under both the NY Child Victims Act and the Adult Survivors Act. If you have questions about the statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse lawsuits in New York or a potential case, we’re available to help.

History of Abuse & Cover-Ups in NY Catholic Dioceses

As in other states across the country, Catholic Dioceses in New York have come under scrutiny for concealing decades of claims accusing priests and other church members of child sexual abuse.

In addition to a sweeping investigation launched by the New York Attorney General’s Office in 2018, various legal filings and high-profile payouts have pieced together an alarming picture of rampant child sexual abuse within New York Catholic Churches, as well as inexcusable failures of church leadership in stopping abuse, reporting abusers, and protecting victims.

Some examples include:

  • In November 2023, the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, proposed a $200 million settlement for sex abuse claims, facing resistance from a bankruptcy judge who demanded more detailed financial information. The diocese’s plan includes $50 million in cash from itself and an additional $150 million contributed by its parishes and other Catholic organizations. This proposed payout would be the largest settlement offer ever made in a Catholic diocese bankruptcy, both in total and per claimant basis, according to Rockville Centre. The proposal aims to resolve around 600 sex abuse claims but has been stalled, prompting skepticism from abuse survivors’ representatives.
  • In July 2023, the Syracuse Diocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors reached a settlement. This agreement comes after the diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. However, the settlement is pending final court approval before it can be officially implemented. Survivors of sexual abuse within the Syracuse Catholic Diocese will receive a part of $100 million in payments through the settlement of the diocese’s bankruptcy case.
  • In July 2023, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the wake of more than 100 sexual abuse lawsuits. In a letter, Bishop Terry LaValley said the reorganization is in response to the 138 lawsuits filed against the diocese under New York state’s Child Victims Act. The cases go back decades, from 1940 to 1990.
  • In May 2023, a Rochester jury awarded $95 million in damages to a local man who was sexually abused as a minor in 1979 by former Rochester-area priest Foster P. Rogers. Rogers, who was an assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus in Auburn at the time of the abuse, has faced other allegations of child sex abuse and was removed from his ministerial post in 2002. According to internal records, Rogers had been moved across different churches by the Rochester Diocese.
  • In March 2023, the Diocese of Rochester agreed to pay $75.6 million as part of partial settlement with survivors who were sexually abused as children. The settlement, reached as part of a bankruptcy case with the Diocese and one of its major insurers, included approximately 475 survivors who will still have the right to pursue compensation from the Diocese’s other two insurance carriers.
  • In March 2023, the Catholic Diocese of Albany filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to manage liabilities associated with a rising number of child sexual abuse lawsuits. Albany was the fifth of New York’s eight Catholic Dioceses to file for bankruptcy following the flood of claims filed between 2019 and 2021 during the Child Victims Act’s lookback window. At the time of its bankruptcy filing, at least 190 survivors had filed claims against the Diocese.
  • In January 2023, lawyers representing over 620 survivors in sexual abuse claims against the Diocese of Rockville Centre proposed a $450 million settlement with the Church. The Rockville Centre Diocese previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 after facing hundreds of lawsuits filed during the Child Victims Act window.
  • In November 2020, NY Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo accusing leadership of covering up sexual abuse by protecting predator priests rather than children. The lawsuit, which followed a two-year investigation by the AG’s Office and the Diocese’s bankruptcy filing, claimed that the Diocese violated nonprofit laws by failing to identify over two dozen priests for potential removal.
  • In October 2020, the Diocese of Rockville Centre filed for bankruptcy after it was hit with hundreds of claims filed by survivors who were sexually abused by priests and other clergy members. The Diocese, which serves over 1.4 million parishioners in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, was the third NY Diocese to file for bankruptcy protection following the flood of claims filed under the Child Victims Act. The Rockville Centre’s bankruptcy was preceded by filings from the Diocese of Rochester in 2019 and the Diocese of Buffalo in 2020.

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Levy Konigsberg has recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors seek justice and provide the firepower they need to fight back against powerful institutions like the Catholic Church.


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