The New York Diocese of Brooklyn is facing almost 600 lawsuits related to priest abuse allegations. Many of these lawsuits were filed under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA) — a bill passed in August 2019.
Now, priest abuse survivors are taking legal action to seek justice and compensation from the New York Catholic dioceses. New York’s legal “look back” window for child sexual abuse cases will close on August 13, 2021.
NY Legal Window Closes in August
Abused by a New York Priest? You May Have Legal Rights
Survivors File 571 Lawsuits Against Brooklyn Diocese
Between August 2019 and December 2020, survivors filed 571 priest abuse lawsuits against the Brooklyn Diocese. Many of these cases were revived under the New York CVA.
In many cases, past and present diocesan officials concealed incidents of abuse and protected many abusers from public scrutiny and legal consequences. This secrecy often allowed abusers to prey on more victims.
Former Priest Romano Ferraro Named In 18 Lawsuits
Defrocked priest Romano Ferraro was named in 18 of the lawsuits filed against the Brooklyn Diocese. The abuse allegations against him span from 1958 to 1991.
Church documents show the Brooklyn Diocese knew about Ferraro abusing minors as early as 1973. Rather than remove him from ministry, the diocese helped transfer Ferraro to a Missouri parish where he continued to abuse children.
Ferraro also faces abuse allegations in at least one other New York diocese and in New Jersey.
In 1988, Ferraro was defrocked. In 2004, he was convicted of child sexual assault in Massachusetts. He is currently serving a life sentence. In March 2020, a parole board denied Ferraro’s request for parole.
Insurance Company Files Lawsuit Against Brooklyn Diocese
The Brooklyn Diocese is also facing pushback from its own insurance company. In December 2020, the insurance company, Arrowood Indemnity Company, filed a lawsuit against the diocese.
In the lawsuit, the insurance company argues it should not be responsible for compensating victims abused by diocesan priests.
The company made the argument that the Brooklyn diocese knew about abusive priests and willingly covered up their crimes. The lawsuit details the abuse of former Brooklyn priest Romano Ferraro, as well as three other abusive priests in the diocese.
Regardless of how the diocese compensates victims, survivors of clergy abuse should file a claim soon. The window to file a legal claim against the New York dioceses is fast approaching.
Abused by a New York Priest?
Review Your Legal Options Before the Window Closes
New York Dioceses Face Nearly 3,000 Lawsuits
The Brooklyn Diocese is one of eight Catholic dioceses in the state of New York. Because of the state’s legal “look back” window, many survivors of clergy abuse have been given a second chance to seek justice against their abusers and the responsible dioceses.
More than 2,801 civil lawsuits have been filed against New York Catholic dioceses. The claims against the Brooklyn diocese are nearly one-fifth of the total claims filed against the eight dioceses.
Only the New York Archdiocese surpasses the Brooklyn Diocese in number of cases. The archdiocese faces 710 priest abuse lawsuits. Each diocese is facing numerous sexual abuse lawsuits.
Priest Abuse Lawsuits Against New York Dioceses
|Diocese||Number of Lawsuits|
|New York Archdiocese||710|
|Rockville Centre Diocese||228|
|*These numbers are accurate as of December 2020.|
On August 13, 2021, the New York “look back” window will close. New York survivors of childhood sexual abuse should take action now. Abuse survivors with older cases will lose their opportunity for legal justice when the window closes.
Beckstead, B. (2021, April 6). Law firm provides update on lawsuits involving Catholic dioceses, alleged clergy perpetrators. NNY360.
Duggan, K. (2021, April 6). ALMOST 600 CHILD SEX ABUSE LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST BROOKLYN DIOCESE UNDER CHILD VICTIMS ACT. Brooklyn Paper.
Lahman, S. (2020, December 29). Insurance company sues Diocese of Brooklyn over sex abuse cases alleging it knew of prolific abuser. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Otterman, S. (2017, November 10). They Quietly Left the Church, but the Sexual Abuse Continued. The New York Times.
SNAP. (2020, March 11). Parole Denied in Romano Ferraro Case, SNAP Applauds Decision.