The New York Child Victims Act is facing its first legal challenge, following the filing of a lawsuit by the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in Nassau County Supreme Court.
The New York Child Victims Act became law in February, and greatly extended the statute of limitations for filing criminal or civil claims against accused child sexual abusers, as well as any public or private institution that may have enabled wrongful conduct.
Among other things, the law opened a one-year window during which adult survivors can file civil lawsuits regardless of how long ago their alleged abuse occurred. That window officially opened on August 14, 2019.
In 2017, the Rockville Center Diocese established an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which has so far paid $50 million to 277 clergy sexual abuse claimants. About 80 additional claims remain to be processed.
But since August 14th, the diocese has been hit with nearly 20 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed in accordance with the New York Child Victims Act. Church officials claim they are only challenging the law to ensure the diocese has funds to compensate victims through its own insurance policy.
“As part of its commitment to caring for these survivors, the diocese must and will make every effort to ensure that all survivors have access to those monies, including by taking necessary legal measures,” an official statement read. “Available resources should be deployed in a manner that compensates all survivors fairly.”
According to The Long Island Herald, news of the diocese’s filing was met with scorn by some survivors and their advocates.
On Sunday, Road to Recovery, a New Jersey-based organization that supports sex abuse survivors and their families, staged a rally outside St. Agnes Cathedral. During the protest, several attendees held signs that read “Bishop Barres: Resign” and “Drop Lawsuits & Name Abusers.”
“We got more thumbs up than I anticipated,” Robert Hoatson, the group’s president and found told the Herald. “It seems some people are upset with the Bishop’s decision to challenge this and are confused as to why he’s taking an adversarial position.”