The Brooklyn Catholic Diocese is facing 10 new clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who allegedly endured molestation at the hands of priests, brothers, and a Catholic school teacher decades ago.
The claims were filed on Monday and accuse a total of 11 men, including seven who are believed to be dead. The whereabouts of the remaining four are unknown. The alleged abuse occurred between 1952 and 1982.
“The Diocese of Brooklyn takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously,” diocese press secretary Adriana Rodriguez said in a statement to ABC News. “On the ten new cases filed, we are just learning about them and need to carefully review the allegations made in these lawsuits.”
According to Rodriguez, four of those named in the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits were already included on the Brooklyn Diocese’s list of credibly accused priests.
The filings were made possible by the New York Child Victims Act, which finally passed the state legislature earlier this year. The legislation included a one-year window allowing survivors to file civil lawsuits against their abusers, as well as the public or private institutions that enabled their abuse, regardless of when the statute of limitations on their claims expired. That window opened on August 14, 2019.
New York previously required child abuse survivors to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and enablers by their 23rd birthday. However, the Child Victims Act extended the deadline until a survivor turns 55. The statute of limitations for filing felony criminal charges was also extended until a victim’s 28th birthday, rather than their 23rd.
Child sexual abuse survivors have filed more than 500 new civil claims in courts across New York since the Child Victims Act’s one-year filing window opened on August 14th.
The filings include around 300 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits that name the state’s various Roman Catholic dioceses as defendants. Other prominent institutions facing legal action thanks to the New York Child Victims Act include the Boy Scouts of America and Rockefeller University Hospital in New York City.
Legal experts believe that thousands of additional cases will be filed before the one-year filing window closes in September 2020. According to some estimates, total liability could exceed $1 Billion.