A former student at St. Joseph’s School in Middletown, New York claims she was sexually abused by Sister Ann Peterson over a five-year period during the mid-1960s.
Her lawsuit, which is now pending in Westchester Supreme Court, is just one of the most recent cases filed in accordance with the New York Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year filing window allowing adult survivors to pursue decades old claims against their alleged abuses, as well as any private or public institutions that may have enabled their victimization.
According to the Hudson Valley Post, the behavior detailed in the complaint purportedly began in 1963, when the plaintiff was just 10-years-old, and continued through 1967. During that time, Peterson allegedly molested the girl by “hugging her; kissing her; massaging her; caressing her; and caressing and touching her breasts and genitals; stroked her thighs, reaching up her uniform and with her hand tried to masturbate her on multiple occasions, and otherwise sexually abusing her.”
The lawsuit names Peterson, the Archdiocese of New York, The Parish of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph School and the Ursulines of the Eastern Province as defendants.
According to NYUP.com, Peterson belongs to the Ursulines of the Eastern Province, which operates The Ursuline School in New Rochelle and the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx. Peterson served as principal at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle in the 1970s and was most recently a member of the board of trustees at the school. However, she has stepped down from the board in light of these allegations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Child Victims Act in February, following a 12-year-battle that saw intense opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and other powerful interests.
The law greatly altered the deadlines for pursuing criminal charges and civil claims for child sexual abuse by:
The one-year window opened on August 14th. Since then, more than 1,000 previously time-barred child sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in courts across New York State.