CVA advocates say some childhood sexual abuse victims are being left out of legal process


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Child Victims Act one-year “Lookback Window” allowing sexual abuse victims to file civil lawsuits against their accused perpetrators began on August 14.

Since then, News10ABC has reported on several lawsuits filed- not just against the accused perpetrators, but most notably against the organizations they once represented.

Albany attorney Steve Coffey of O’Connell & Aronowitz said, “Because that’s where the money is. Most of these priests or even Boy Scout leaders or you take someone else. They could have retired or died and their estate is gone. So, the organizations are the ones left. And a lot of these organizations were complicit.” He added that minus any option for a criminal case, financial compensation is really the only other option for victims within our legal system.

Coffey represents clients who have filed cases as part of the so-called Lookback.

It allows victims who were unable to seek justice in criminal court due to the statute of limitations, to find some sort of compensation in civil court.

But, according to Protect NY Kids, the group behind the Child Victims Act, nearly 98.8%  of lookback cases involve a defendant that is an institution or corporation. Just over 1% involve a private citizen. However, Protect NY Kids says that’s exactly who most of the perpetrators are. And that those cases are typically not seen as being fiscally worthwhile to pursue legally.

Childhood sexual abuse survivor Gary Greenberg said he’s spoken with attorneys who have told him (in his words) “They can only do the cases they feel they have the best chance of winning.”

“One attorney told me it was too bad that weren’t raped by a priest. That’s disgusting.” said Connie Altamirano. Her perpetrator was her step-grandfather, who escaped justice by fleeing to his native Ecuador.

“Everyone deserves justice.” she said.

Connie worked with fellow survivor Gary Greenberg to push through the Child Victims Act. They are now trying to create a state fund that would help victims pursue lawsuits after having been turned away.

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