A New York City law firm introduced an updated public database Thursday with 13 new alleged perpetrators accused of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany filed under the Child Victims Act this year as the law’s lookback window nears its closing deadline.
Jeff Anderson & Associates added the names of the additional accused child molesters to its New York Child Victims Act Diocesan Lawsuit Dashboard, which includes detailed data about the thousands of clergy accused of sexually abusing children within the archdioceses of New York, Rockville Centre, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Syracuse and Ogdensburg.
“The database demonstrates what we do know,” attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents hundreds of state survivors, said Thursday. “Knowing that action has a chance of protecting other kids and helping other survivors realize they’re not the only one, and inspiring them to take their power back and to share that secret and to do something about it instead of suffering in silence each day.”
Signed into law Jan. 28, 2019, the Child Victims Act gives survivors of child sexual abuse a vehicle to file civil lawsuits against their abusers for incidents that happened before age 18. Cases must be filed before the lookback window closes Aug. 13.
The 13 new accused clergy members within the Albany Diocese include Henry J. Burke, Gerald Campanile, Ann Cecilia, Riccardo Colarossi, William D’Arcy, Lawrence “Larry” Dick, George Richard Gibson, John Jones, Paul Jones, Paul LeDuc, Brice Patrick, John Riley and Joseph S. Robitaille named in Child Victims Act suits filed between Jan. 1 and May 31.
The firm updated its public data last week and determined 176 alleged perpetrators have not been publicly identified in official diocesan lists, religious order lists or other media in dioceses statewide.
“Because we do not know the current location of these accused perpetrators, if they are alive or dead, and if they have access to children, there is a great public risk,” attorney Mike Finnegan said in a statement. “We are urging the public to help us in any way they can. If you know anything about these newly accused perpetrators, contact law enforcement.”
Thousands of clergymen who served in parishes across the state have been named in more than 3,300 lawsuits involving the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations and employees since Aug. 14, 2019. The complaints allege abuse by more than 1,700 individuals, including cardinals, bishops, priests, members of religious orders and lay staff.
“We are still reviewing these cases, though we cannot comment on anything in litigation,” Albany Diocese Director of Communications Mary DeTurris Poust said in a statement Friday. “Bishop Scharfenberger and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany take all allegations of abuse seriously and remain committed to uncovering the truth without fear or favor. Our first concern is for survivors, and we stand ready to accompany them, support them, and assist them.”
About 2.4% of lawsuits involve the Diocese of Ogdensburg, with 5.4% of suits involving the Diocese of Syracuse, 8.7% of complaints involving the Albany Diocese, 9.8% naming the Diocese of Rochester and 15.7% in Buffalo. The Diocese of New York is named in 27.7% of filed complaints, according to the firm’s dashboard.
The database allows a user to search for and see the number of lawsuits filed against accused clergy by their role in a parish and filter by diocese or archdiocese.
“There are over 3,000 men and women with the courage to stand up, speak out and identify these over 1,700 alleged perpetrators in New York,” Finnegan said Thursday. “Each and every one of you made that step. Each and every one of you took that courageous act. This database is here because of you.”
More than 7,339 cases have been filed under the Child Victims Act since Monday, according to the state Office of Court Administration, including two in Jefferson County, 86 in St. Lawrence County and three in Lewis County.
It is imperative as many survivors as possible come forward and seek a civil complaint under the Child Victims Act before the lookback window closes next month, Anderson said, regardless if the accused is alive or dead or has monetary assets to gain.
“We have to make sure to protect the survivor against further harm,” Anderson said. “There can be a sense of empowerment, a sense of recovery and that energy gets invested and protects the public. It identifies the offender and no further harm is done.”
Anderson has worked with thousands of survivors over more than 40 years.
“The opportunity expires Aug. 13 — so does the call to action for witnesses, whistleblowers, police and the community,” he said of the closing lookback window. “Stand up and work with us to make a difference to clean it up to make it safer and protect kids.”
The state deadline to file cases under the Child Victims Act is Aug. 13.