The Diocese of Rockville Centre suffered a setback in court this week when Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Steven Jaeger denied the Diocese’s motion to stay the lawsuits. The Diocese has argued that the lawsuits may force it into bankruptcy.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre filed its own lawsuit last November to fight the constitutionality of New York’s Child Victims Act that was passed in February 2019 allowing victims of childhood abuse — for a one-year period to bring claims regardless of when the abuse occurred.
The Diocese, which serves more than 1.4 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties, has since asked for 86 sex abuse cases brought against it to be put on hold pending an appeal of their case fighting the CVA. The Diocese argued the stay was essential because the cost of fighting the appeal and the sex abuses cases all at once could drive it to bankruptcy.
“The Court finds that the delay in seeking justice has already been significant and further delay is not justified,” Jaeger’s decision reads. “Many CVA plaintiffs state they have been dealing with the effects of the abuse they were subjected to for decades and that this abuse was allegedly permitted to occur by the negligence, willful blindness and/or knowing cover-up by the Diocese and others.”
Rockville Centre has fought survivors for decades even during a grand jury investigation nearly two decades ago which concluded that the diocese’s bishops covered up the sexual abuse of minor by Rockville Centre priests.
The Grand Jury Report, release in February 2003, concluded,
“Priests assigned to and working in the Diocese of Rockville Centre committed criminal acts in violation of New York State Penal Law Article 130, Sex Offenses, and other statutes designed to protect the health, safety and welfare of children. These criminal acts included, but were not limited to, Rape, Sodomy, Sexual Abuse, Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Use of a Child in a Sexual Performance. Not one priest in the Diocese who knew about these criminal acts reported them to any law enforcement agency. Frequently, because of the nature of child sexual abuse the victims of this criminal activity do not and did not, in these cases, disclose it until they were adults. This was almost always after the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of these crimes had lapsed. Even when offender priests were sent to an out of state Diocese the tolling provisions of the New York State Criminal Procedure Law did not effectively work to allow a criminal prosecution. The limitations contained therein precluded the prosecution of offenders living out of the state. The Grand Jury concludes that officials in the Diocese failed in their responsibility to protect children. They ignored credible complaints about the sexually abusive behaviors of priests. They failed to act on obvious warning signs of sexual abuse including instances where they were aware that priests had children in their private rooms in the rectory overnight, that priests were drinking alcohol with underage children and exposing them to pornography. Even where a priest disclosed sexually abusive behavior with children officials failed to act to remove him from ministry.”
Anyone who knows the history in Rockville Centre should applaud the judge’s ruling. See more information below.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.