The Buffalo Diocese of the Catholic Church has seen a wave of new sexual abuse allegations in the past few months as a result of the Child Victims Act, which allows victims of sex abuse to file complaints or charges against their alleged abusers long after the statute of limitations on the crime has passed.
In early June, three priests were placed on administrative leave by Bishop Michael Fisher after his office discovered a publicly filed complaint alleging the three priests coerced underage students to perform sex acts in the 90s, and on July 12th, a fourth priest was placed on administrative leave by the bishop after allegations surfaced that he abused a child at his church in the 80s.
The first complaint, filed anonymously in early June, alleges that the three priests coerced underage children to perform sex acts in the late 90s. The plaintiff, now a 35-year-old man from Erie County, was a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School at the time and states that although the priests never touched him, they did coerce him to have sex with underage girls and believes they may have filmed the interactions. He believes the recordings still exist and may have been distributed as child pornography.
All three priests have denied any wrongdoing. One was still actively pastoring at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Orchard Park, the second was retired but still active in the parish, and the third was pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Williamsburg.
The complaint was not served to the diocese but rather was discovered by Bishop Fisher’s office while searching through a list of publicly filed complaints. According to Fisher’s office, the priests were placed on administrative leave immediately pending an investigation by the diocese’s Independent Review Board, and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office was notified.
The diocese reached out to the plaintiff’s lawyer to see if his client will assist in their investigation of the allegations of abuse and are awaiting a reply.
“We appreciate the diocese addressing these priests and doing the right thing, but at the same time, there is a trust factor,” said Paul K. Barr, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff.
According to the filed complaint, the abuse started in 1994 and continued through 1998. Barr provided additional details about the allegations to The Buffalo News.
Barr said, “What happened was, he was about twelve years old and he’s in confessional and the priest shows him pornography. The priest asked him if he liked it. It was an adult woman and it kind of grossed him out.”
Barr went on to describe more of the encounter. “The priest asked, ‘What do you like?’ and he said ‘Girls my age.’ The priest said, ‘Like who?’”
A few weeks after this encounter, the plaintiff was summoned to the priest’s office and found the girl he had mentioned waiting there with the priest. It was then that the abuse started. Barr said the priest described the ‘mechanics’ of how sex works and left the room. Initially, there was only kissing and petting, but the encounters eventually led to intercourse between the plaintiff and several underage girls.
Although there is no physical evidence, Barr’s client believes the encounters were recorded. “He never saw the camera, but we strongly suspect it was filmed. The plaintiff has explained that the priests had a device in their hands and would press a button, and my client would hear a clicking sound,” Barr said.
The plaintiff did not realize until he was an adult that the clicking sound likely indicated the recording of the encounters.
“He believes these incidents occurred 12 to 15 times,” Barr said. According to the lawsuit, over the four-year period from 1994 to 1998, the three priests all became involved in planning and orchestrating the abuse.
The second complaint, filed only a few weeks later, alleges sexual abuse at the hands of another priest in Buffalo in the 80s, this time at the parish of St. Matthew. As in the previous case, the priest was placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation and decision by the diocese’s Independent Review Board.
As before, this lawsuit was discovered by a search of publicly filed complaints and was not served upon the diocese.
The accused 88-year-old priest denies any wrongdoing. He is retired but still active in the parish ministry. The victim is not assisting in the investigation.
“Bishop Fisher wishes to emphasize that the decision to restrict [the accused]’s priestly faculties at this time is in no way intended to indicate his guilt or is it a determination about the truth or falsity of the complaints,” according to a statement from the Diocese of Buffalo.
The Effects of the Child Victims Act
Since its passage in 2019, the Child Victims Act has brought to light staggering allegations of institutionalized sexual abuse that have rocked New York’s private and public institutions to their core.
The law has directly led to over 6,000 complaints and lawsuits alleging abuse at the hands of individuals and institutions, such as Boy Scouts of America, USA Gymnastics, and the Catholic Church. Although some suits name individuals, 97% of suits filed are against institutions that allowed abuse to go on unhindered, and in some cases, actually assisted in it.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 as it faced hundreds of lawsuits from abuse victims. Four of New York’s Catholic dioceses: Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Long Island’s Rockville Center, have also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows them to ease the burden of litigation by addressing abuse claimants as a single class.
Get Justice for Your Sex Abuse Case
If you or someone you love has suffered abuse at the hands of someone charged with their care, don’t wait any longer. The Look-Back provision of the Child Victims Act expires in August of 2021, so call the New York sexual abuse attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation. Let us put our years of experience to work for you. Call (212) 779-0057 today.
On the surface, the Boy Scouts of America seemed like an outstanding youth program that focused on teaching young boys and adolescents diverse skills and developing their work ethic to achieve their goals and dreams. Unfortunately, this organization is now facing allegations that instead of protecting children and helping them reach their full potential, some scout leaders were systematically abusing children, causing them unspeakable pain and trauma.
However, the problem for many young boys and their parents is that these allegations are nothing new. News reports suggest that claims of abuse date back to 1905. The number of cases climbed between the 1960s and 1990s, with more than 2,839 reports of alleged abuse in 1970 alone.
Sex abuse allegations against the organization go back decades, and yet, most people have only recently become aware of the true scope of the problem. Why? In part because new laws have been passed that aim to give silent sex abuse victims their right to speak up and have their day in court.
The Child Victims Act
In 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation dubbed the Child Victims Act. This monumental piece of legislation opened up the path to justice for child sex abuse survivors to pursue legal action against the perpetrators of sexual misconduct and hold them accountable for their actions. The act itself increased the amount of time that victims have to pursue a lawsuit against the alleged perpetrators of child sex crimes in New York. It also allows victims of sex crimes to seek civil remedies for their abuse at any time, as long as they pursue legal action before they reach the age of 55.
The act was passed in 2019 and then was extended, partially because of the toll the COVID-19 epidemic was taking on the state of New York. Courts were closed, and the public health emergency meant that while the statute of limitations clock was ticking, abuse victims could not pursue legal action or move their cases forward in any meaningful way. The Child Victims Abuse Act gave those survivors the extra time they needed to pursue legal action without worrying that the COVID-19 pandemic would slow their progress down in their path towards justice.
How the Act Spurred Renewed Interest in Justice
In the years and months leading up to the signing of the new legislation, the Boy Scouts of American had been embroiled with sex abuse allegations and costly lawsuits over their handling of sex abuse claims. By 2018 the organization’s insurance companies started refusing to pay out damages associated with the claims. The financial strain was too much, and by February of 2020, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware. Under the Chapter 11 filing, the organization would be forced to reorganize and set up a victim’s compensation fund. Victims were offered one last opportunity to file an abuse claim against the organization. These final filings were given a November 16, 2020, deadline. News reports indicate that before the November 16 deadline, at least 92,700 people had filed sex abuse claims against the organization.
As part of their Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, BSA would establish a victim’s compensation fund that the organization claimed would provide “equitable compensation to all victims,” but to some sexual abuse survivors, this fund seems to be a maneuver that allows the organization to skirt the justice process by not allowing victims their day in court.
By filing for bankruptcy, BSA can put all their previous lawsuits on hold as the process plays out. While the bankruptcy proceedings impact tens of thousands of potential victims, the new extended statute of limitation laws enacted by states like New York and California are keeping a window of opportunity open to abuse survivors.
The Child Victims Act allows survivors of sexual abuse to pursue legal actions against local Boy Scout councils and chapters, even though the organization as a whole is in the process of filing for bankruptcy. This gives victims a chance to pursue some measure of justice for the atrocities that they may have endured at the hands of BSA’s leaders and mentors. For victims in New York, the BSA bankruptcy filing doesn’t have to mean giving up on their chance at holding the Boy Scouts organization accountable for the actions, or lack thereof, of its staff members and leadership.
The COVID-19 shut-down may have been the catalyst, but the cases that are coming to light in the aftermath of the Child Victims Act demonstrate that this piece of legislation may have been overdue. Sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating, and there is no timetable for healing. Coming forward with sexual abuse allegations is difficult and painful, often bringing up horrific childhood memories that a victim may have spent years trying to bury. It wasn’t that long ago that people took to heart the adage “a child should be seen and not heard.” Children deserve to be heard, and abused children deserve justice, even if they are currently adults.
It takes courage to confront the past. The law now allows abuse victims to share their stories. It also allows victims to use the legal system to gain some sense of justice and hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
Victims of Abuse Still Have Time to File a Claim
The Child Victims Act timetable has been extended again. Victims now have until August 14, 2021, to file a legal claim. If you suffered sexual abuse as a child or if your child has been the victim of abuse, you can still file a lawsuit. It may be difficult to come forward with abuse allegations, but there are people ready and willing to listen to your story and help you fight back.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have compassionate attorneys standing by, ready to listen to you. Our attorneys can be a supportive shoulder to lean on and can use their legal experience to pursue justice for you and your family. You don’t have to remain silent, quietly suffering the burden of your situation. You can come forward to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
If you feel ready to talk, we stand ready to listen. Contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney with Hach & Rose, LLP today at (212) 779-0057 for more information about how we may be able to help you pursue legal action under New York’s Child Victims Act.
In 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a monumental piece of legislation called the Child Victims Act. It was a bill conceived out of pain, suffering, and heartache and considered by some to be a long-overdue piece of legislation. The measure gives child survivors of sexual abuse a new pathway to seek justice and compensation for their trauma.
The overriding goal of the bill was to allow certain time-barred cases a one-year period in which to file a lawsuit. This means that if the statute of limitations has expired on a sexual abuse case, today, there may still be hope that the victim can file a lawsuit to hold the perpetrator accountable. The heart of the legislation also includes provisions that:
- Allow sexual abuse victims to file a civil lawsuit at any time, as long as they do so before they reach the age of 55.
- Increase or extend the statute of limitations for which an alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse may be held accountable for their crimes.
- Open up the opportunity for certain previously time-barred claims against public or private institutions to be taken to court for civil action.
The passage of this piece of legislation has resulted in a flood of new sexual abuse cases being filed in courts across the state of New York. Both small and large, these cases include not only individual alleged sexual predators, but also major organizations accused of sexual abuse, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church. Claims have also been filed relating to foster care abuse and sexual abuse at New York boarding schools.
By the end of 2020, news reports indicate that almost 600 sexual abuse lawsuits had been filed against the Catholic Church of Brooklyn due to the passage of the Child Victims Act. In other areas of the state, more than 3,797 new claims had been filed because of the Child Victims Act.
More claims are expected to be filed, especially due to the success of the bill and the lingering impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on slowing down the court system. Governor Cuomo has extended the amount of time that victims have to file claims under the Child Victims Act, now giving survivors until August 14th, 2021, to file a legal claim.
The Impact is Big
It is safe to say that at this point, the Child Victims Act is having a major impact on the New York legal system and is giving childhood victims of sexual abuse a voice and a new outlet for seeking justice. Too often, child victims are silenced by fear, shame, and by the fact that, as children, their credibility is often questioned. Their voices are not always heard or believed, but the Child Victims Act doesn’t shut the door to justice on them. The impact the act has had on the lives of child sexual abuse survivors has been so enormous that it can’t accurately be measured by those whose lives have been changed by it.
It is no wonder that with the success of the Child Victims Act, other survivors are now coming forward wanting their day in court as well. The Child Victims Act is causing a ripple effect, extending to other groups and communities who want to see justice done for themselves and those close to them. People who have been sexually abused as adults are pointing to the Child Victims Act, saying they want to see legislators pass something similar, offering protection to them as well. A bill called the Adult Survivors Act attempts to do just that. The legislation, which has passed the state Senate, would extend a similar one-year window to adult sexual abuse victims who have otherwise been barred by New York’s statute of limitations from filing lawsuits for sexual abuse crimes.
The Adult Survivors Act
Supporters of the bill point to cases like those of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and gynecologist Robert Hadden as evidence of why adults need this measure to pass. In the case of Harvey Weinstein, his power and money kept women afraid and almost powerless to come forward with their sexual abuse allegations for fear he would ruin their budding careers in Hollywood. By the time sexual abuse allegations began mounting and women felt safer talking about their experiences with Weinstein, they were unable to legally hold him accountable for the alleged abuse because the statute of limitations had expired.
Advocates of the bill also point to the serious cases of sexual abuse purportedly committed by New York gynecologist Robert Hadden. Hadden has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 200 women under the guise of medical examinations. His reign of alleged terror extends back two decades, and although a 2016 plea deal required him to relinquish his medical license, he was never required to serve any jail time. Some of his alleged victims who were minors at the time of the abuse have been able to pursue claims against him thanks to the Child Victims Act, but adult survivors are still waiting for their day in court.
New York lawmakers have a unique opportunity to expand on the landmark Child Victims Act. Many survivors of sexual abuse are hoping they capitalize on it and pass the Adult Survivors Act.
Hach & Rose, LLP May Be Able to Help You Have Your Day in Court
If you were a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, or if your child has been a victim of abuse, the Child Victims Act may be able to help you get your day in court. Already, thousands of cases have been filed by courageous New Yorkers who have been in your shoes and know what it is like to come forward.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we understand the bravery required to face the pain and talk about this type of traumatic event. Our experienced attorneys are committed to treating your case with sensitivity and compassion while we help guide you through the legal process towards justice.
If you are ready to talk about your situation, we are ready to listen. Call us today at (212) 779-0057. New York laws are changing. Let us help you understand what that means for your future.
The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) was passed in August 2019. CVA provided a one-year look-back window that allowed many survivors of child sexual abuse to bring a civil suit against their abuser and any institution that protected the abuser despite such an action being barred by the existing statute of limitations. For actions that are not barred by the statute of limitations, thanks to CVA, survivors now have until they are 55 years old to file a civil suit regardless of the amount of time that elapsed since the abuse took place.
Prior to the enactment of this law, survivors were barred from seeking redress in civil court if more than five years had passed since their eighteenth birthday. This new law acknowledged that many survivors of abuse are not prepared at the age of 23 to deal with the sexual abuse they suffered as a child. Often survivors need decades to deal with the trauma that they sustained. And even more time may be required before they are prepared to file suit against their abuser to hold them accountable. CVA recognizes that the harm experienced by child sexual abuse sufferers does not necessarily end when the statute of limitations expires but may continue throughout the survivor’s life.
Individuals who were sexually abused as children are at greater risk of developing the following conditions:
- Substance abuse (alcohol and/or drug)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Increased risk of suicide
- Issues with intimacy
- Issues with trust
- Eating disorders
- Issues with self-esteem
- Increased instability in relationships
- Sexual problems
Often these problems do not appear until long after the statute of limitations has expired, leaving survivors with no recourse. CVA attempts to address this issue.
However, COVID-19 diluted the immediate effect of this law. Due to the pandemic, New York courts suspended the filing of new cases. To address this lack of court access and the disruption of daily life caused by the virus, the New York Legislature extended the one-year window. Survivors may file civil actions until August 14, 2021. Time is running out to take advantage of this “window.” Once this window closes, you may be forever barred from seeking accountability from the person that molested you and the institution that allowed this to happen.
Often, even though there have been numerous allegations of sexual abuse, an institution fails to take action to protect children. For example, a former basketball coach at a Catholic school molested hundreds of little boys. However, despite numerous complaints over the years, the community, school, and church failed to remove this man from his position. He passed away in 1992, but the institutions that protected him remain. Under CVA, survivors may still pursue civil claims against these institutions, even though their molester is dead.
To successfully sue an institution, you must prove it was negligent. More specifically, the issue is whether the practices and procedures the institution had in place to reduce the risk of child sex abuse were adequate and whether these procedures were followed properly. Over the years, the reasonableness of the procedures has changed as society has become more aware of child sex abuse.
If your abuser is still living, there is a chance that they are still abusing children. Under CVA, an abuser can no longer hide behind the claim that the statute of limitations has expired. Bringing a suit may potentially stop your abuser from harming other children.
A man who was sexually abused by three employees of the Boys’ Club of New York in the 1970’s starting when he was just 11 years old filed suit against the Boys’ Club recently. The plaintiff had been barred from filing suit by the civil statute of limitations. But thanks to the look-back window of CVA, the plaintiff was able to sue the Boys’ Club of New York for its breach of duty and negligence.
Another survivor of sexual abuse recently brought suit against her abuser, the city of New York, and the Department of Education. The abuse took place between 2007 and 2009. The woman maintains that the school and the city acted negligently by failing to have policies and procedures in place to prevent such sexual abuse from happening to children in their care. The abuser is currently serving a 35-year prison term for abusing four girls and one boy between 2007 and 2009. One of the other female survivors already brought a civil action against the city and won a $16 million judgment.
To illustrate just how valuable CVA has been to survivors of child sexual abuse, from August 13, 2019 until December 31, 2020, alleged victims have filed 2,801 civil suits against various Catholic institutions throughout New York. Only 28 of these suits allege that the abuse took place after 2000. Thus, the overwhelming majority of these cases were time-barred by the statute of limitations and could not have been filed but for the look-back window opened by CVA.
Due to the avalanche of suits that have been filled in the wake of CVA, a number of institutions have filed bankruptcy. Four Catholic dioceses in New York State are among those that have filed.
The Boy Scouts of America is the largest institution that has sought protection in Bankruptcy Court due in large part to child sexual abuse allegations. Bankruptcy filing does not mean that a suit has no value. As one survivor said, the institution is trying to get a discount on child abuse. The lawsuits the Boy Scouts face are from across the country. As of yet, the Bankruptcy Court has not approved its proposed reorganization plan, which includes an average amount of $6,000 per claimant.
If you think that you should file suit because of child sexual abuse you endured, the time to act is now. You deserve compensation for the trauma you have suffered. While money cannot erase the physical and emotional pain, it can help you get the services you need to deal with the trauma. Call the experienced and compassionate attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free consultation.
Amanda Donates, the charity run by our very own paralegal Amanda Lyons, has reached its one-year anniversary! To commemorate this great achievement, we chatted with her about her experience has been like.
What has it been like to run a charity for the first time?
It has definitely been a challenging balance! Not only am I a paralegal at Hach & Rose, LLP, but I’m also going to law school. It’s been tough, but it’s such an important cause and I always find time to make it happen.
I’ve also been trying to figure out the best route to take Amanda Donates in. We’ve recently decided to start the process of filing as a 501c3, which would register us officially as a nonprofit and grant us tax-exempt status. It will open a lot of doors for us, which is great.
What is it like to serve the community?
Making personal connections with the community is my favorite thing about Amanda Donates. Over the past year, I’ve been working hard to figure out how I can make the biggest impact. When we first started, we changed the location of our food pantry every month so we could donate to different areas. But we found that to be difficult; since we were never in the same place consistently, the community couldn’t get used to relying on us. Additionally, once quarantine ended and businesses started to open again, moving around became more difficult because we now need permits to host our events. With everything shut down that wasn’t a problem, but it’s not the same anymore. So I decided to settle on one location, P.S. 124 in Brooklyn, for the time being. Now we see the same people each month and we can really start to get to know them. Being in the same place we’ve been able to better serve the community, because I know what their particular needs are. Also, since we’re there each month, the local businesses are starting to take an interest in what we’re doing, and we can build relationships with them.
All of this to say, the learning curve we’ve experienced over the past year has led to some great changes. Staying in one place has really allowed us to get to know the neighborhood.
What do you enjoy most about the effort and time you have dedicated to giving back?
Seeing the impact that Amanda Donates has had on the community is amazing to experience. I’ve gotten to hear firsthand stories from members of the community and really learn about what they’re going through. I also love that being in one location each month means that people can rely on us. I can tell a new visitor that they can count on us being here at the same place next month, so they can plan to rely on our donations. This also helps us to make an even greater impact, because they can tell their friends and family that we’re here.
What is your mission statement?
Amanda Donates is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. More specifically, Amanda Donates is dedicated to empowering change in surrounding communities by providing goods and services to those that are hungry, facing hardship, or are simply down on their luck.
What have you accomplished over the past year?
It has been an incredibly productive year! So far we’ve accomplished 10 food pantries, supporting our community with essential food and supplies. In addition, we’ve been involved in fundraisers, school supply donation drives, toy drives for the holiday season, monetary donations, and more. I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve so far, and I can’t wait to do even more this year.
What are your plans for this year?
Soon we should get approved as an Incorporated organization, and after that we can start on the application as a 501c3. This should really open some doors for us for corporate donations, because many places are unable to donate unless the organization is a 501c3. We have a significant amount of donations from generous individuals that allow me to run this pantry every month, but it wouldn’t be enough to serve more than one community. Hopefully we can develop relationships with larger corporations who could supplement what we offer. I’d also love to develop a relationship with a wholesaler who could deliver directly to either my home or to our pantry. At the moment I’m doing all of the shopping myself, which limits me to how many things I can get at one time, and my budget would go farther if I could get the supplies at wholesale prices. All of this will hopefully lead to being able to host multiple locations each month, so that we can serve more communities.
Where do you see Amanda Donates going in the future?
It’s really important to me to serve the NYC area, because there are so many people in need here, so I always want Amanda Donates to have roots in NYC and serving this community. But in the future, I’d love to think about serving other countries as well. My goal is to bring Amanda Donates to places we can make a difference on the ground, helping people one-on-one as we always have.
When is your next event, and how can people get involved?
Our next event is on May 15 at P.S. 124 in Brooklyn! We can always use more donations and volunteers. The most useful items are shelf-stable things like rice, pasta, cereal, canned soup, or breakfast foods like oatmeal. Also, microwaveable prepared meals are great as well. We always get a mixture of people who either don’t have full kitchens or have no kitchen access at all, so we really need items that people can eat even without appliances.
We also always need volunteers! If you’d like to get involved in any way, you can contact me at (347) 479-8266, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In New York State, the following behavior is considered sexual abuse:
- Obscene sexual performance
- Fondling a child’s genitals
- Any act that involves exposing a child to sexual activity or exhibitionism
- Any commercial exploitation such as prostitution or production and dissemination of pornographic materials
New York law deems any child under the age of 17 or one who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, to be incapable of consenting to a sexual act. See Parents’ Guide to New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Laws
An underreported problem is online child sexual abuse. Because the internet spans the globe and the laws vary from country to country, and the perpetrators of online child sexual abuse are often quite sophisticated, law enforcement efforts are severely hampered.
There are three main types of online child sexual abuse:
- Online grooming – a practice in which an adult befriends a child with the intention of sexually abusing that child. Perpetrators select a child on the basis of appeal/attractiveness. They also consider the ease of access: that is, the degree to which the privacy settings on websites frequented by the child are either inadequate or disabled. Perpetrators consider the child’s vulnerabilities. For example, if a child posts about loneliness, isolation, or feeling misunderstood, a perpetrator will exploit that vulnerability. To develop a friendship with the child, the perpetrator uses information that he finds online about the child. The perpetrator uses information, such as a hobby or a family situation, to bond with the child and cultivate their trust. The perpetrator determines the risk of discovery before any sexual exploitation by asking if anyone, such as a parent, monitors the child’s online activity. They tell the child that their relationship is exclusive and secret. The perpetrator’s objective is to manipulate and control the child in order to sexually exploit or abuse them. The exploitation or abuse can be offline. The perpetrator may set up a physical meeting with the child to abuse him or her. The relationship may remain online, such as when the perpetrator manipulates the child into taking a sexually explicit picture or video and sending it to the perpetrator. Both kinds of abuse are damaging to children.
- Child sexual abuse / exploitation material – any manner of depicting of a child engaging in or pretending to engage in explicit sexual activity or the sexual parts of a child for mainly sexual purposes. This material may be disseminated online by email, text message, chat rooms, instant messaging, sharing apps, social media, and communication apps. This material may also be shared on password-protected sites, bulletin boards, and forums.
- Live streaming of child sexual abuse – real-time broadcasting of the sexual abuse of a child. This type of abuse is found in online chat rooms, communication apps, and social media platforms. Viewers may be “passive,” meaning they pay to watch. Viewers may also be “active.” Active viewers request certain physical acts.
The age of consent of a child varies by state and by country, which impedes cross-border cooperation with respect to online child sexual abuse.
The production and dissemination of sexually explicit images of children have reached epidemic proportions. A New York Times investigation found that there were over 3,000 child sexual abuse imagery online in 1998. This number grew to over 100,000 by 2008. Six years later, the number of reports of online images surpassed 1 million. By 2018 the number of images reported was 18.4 million.
Technology such as smartphone cameras, social media, and cloud storage have contributed to the proliferation of sexually explicit images that can be found on the web. New and recirculated images can be found on internet platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and even a storage service like Dropbox.
Law enforcement agents have found a number of online groups that specialize in sharing images of young children and more extreme forms of abuse. These groups are often found on the dark web and utilize encrypted technologies in an attempt to avoid discovery by law enforcement. Several tech companies such as Facebook and Google have increased surveillance of their platforms even though the law does not require them to look for child abuse. The law only requires tech companies to report child abuse when they find it. To further complicate matters for law enforcement, many of these sophisticated online groups use tools such as encryption to teach pedophiles how to produce and disseminate sexually explicit material worldwide.
The victims of this type of abuse not only have to deal with the trauma they experienced when the abuse took place but now live with the constant fear that someone will recognize them from the pictures and videos that are circulating on the internet.
The New York Times investigation that revealed how large the problem is prompted federal legislation that allocates money and resources to combat the problem. Previously proposed bills had targeted tech companies and required them to follow safety guidelines. Failure to follow these guidelines could jeopardize protections for the content of the tech companies.
These bills failed in part because of privacy concerns. There was significant concern that the safety guidelines could be used to ban encryption that the tech companies used on their messaging apps and other platforms. Many people use these encrypted apps because they value their privacy, not because they are trying to hide illegal behavior.
The bill titled Invest in Child Safety Act was originally introduced in May 2020 and was reintroduced in February 2021. This bill calls for five billion dollars in funding to target online predators and abusers. These individuals use the internet to create and share images of children being sexually exploited. The bill also directs significant funding to efforts within the community aimed at preventing the sexual abuse of children. This bill is still pending in Congress.
Abusers win when their victims are too scared, embarrassed, and/or traumatized to name or go after their abusers. The attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP will help you assert your legal rights. We will be with you through each phase of the legal process. Take the first step towards reclaiming your life and call Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation.
2020 was a hard year for everyone, and surprisingly, one of the most dangerous places to be was on the road. While many were at home, there was far less congestion, but drivers drove less carefully, and the death toll from car wrecks was 24% higher than in 2019.
According to the National Safety Council, the death toll jumped from 38,800 to 42,060 people on U.S. roads from 2019 to 2020. Because there were far fewer drivers, this upped the percentage of road fatalities to the highest it has been since before 4-wheel brakes were introduced nearly a century ago.
There were several factors that contributed to these statistics. In the beginning, cities rushed to create a variety of accessibility options for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to find a way to get out and still function while socially distancing. These included make-shift bike lanes, car light shows, and others like them designed to stem traffic congestion. However, as the pandemic wore on, these measures grew unsustainable. As the traffic lanes opened up, it became apparent that the number one hazard was the design of roads that enabled high-speed driving without taking other hazards into consideration. For safer driving habits to become permanent, changes need to be made, such as stronger federal laws requiring better safety features like collision warning on new cars and ignition interlock systems to prevent drunk driving and discourage repeat offenders.
The numbers were high across the nation, but five parts of the country showed heavier concentrations of deadly accidents. Accidents occurred at rates of 30% or higher than the previous year in Washington D.C., South Dakota, and Vermont, while Rhode Island and Arkansas increased at rates of 26%. The data clearly shows that something must be done.
The National Safety Council also noted that there are some tighter measures that could also curb other contributing factors such as restricting the rules for getting a driver’s license for teenagers, creating ways to cut down on cell phone usage behind the wheel with better laws and technology designed to protect motorists. Some of these features can be had in some cars, but they are not available across the board. If the nation is serious about saving lives on the road, these elements must be taken into consideration so everyone can enjoy the roads more safely.
As Americans seek to recover and learn from the hardships of the past twelve months, focusing on traffic safety is an important first step. There are countless ways we can improve, and the first is to take this death-toll spike seriously. If everyone were to reach out to their elected officials on every level to shine a light on this issue and demand changes be made, those who lost their lives did not do so in vain. Making our laws more targeted, our infrastructure more supported, and our cars more advanced will enrich the lives of our communities and allow more people to enjoy the road.
After evaluating hundreds of submissions, we have selected the winner for our Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship for 2020. This year’s winner is a young man named Ben Collier.
When he was 11 years old, Ben lost his father to a string of medical complications that began after a surgeon failed to correctly complete a gastric sleeve operation. The surgeon failed to correctly suture Ben’s father’s stomach after the procedure, resulting in his stomach’s contents leaking into his body, causing severe infection. Ben describes this as “just the first thing that went wrong in a series of unfortunate events.” It seemed that each time the hospital fixed an issue it caused, a new one sprang up. In a matter of days, Ben’s father was put on a ventilator. Soon after, an infection near his colon needed to be drained, a procedure that the doctor described as “no big deal.” A few hours after the infection was drained, Ben’s father went into septic shock, his organs “shutting down by the minute,” as Ben describes it.
His father was taken by helicopter to a trauma hospital, where he saw steady improvements in both his care and condition. After a few months he was able to return home, while attending rehabilitation for all of the trauma his body had been through. Tragically, Ben’s father suddenly fell ill and died. The family soon discovered that the cause of his death was E. coli bacteria in his bloodstream, a tragedy that could have been avoided had the rehabilitation facility taken regular bloodwork as it should have.
Ben grew up without his father as a result of mistakes made by multiple healthcare providers at multiple points in time. Despite such a gut-wrenching setback, Ben graduated high school on the honor roll. He now attends West Texas A&M University, where he studies computer information systems. He says that “Although it has been a struggle not to fall into anger at all of the negligence we have experienced, I am trying my best to use my grief and turn it into doing good for others.”
Motorists driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is still a major problem in New York, as new data published in an Adirondack Daily Enterprise (Saranac Lake, NY) column indicates. Over two out of every five fatalities are related to drugs or alcohol.
According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 36,560 traffic deaths in 2018, nearly 30%, or over 10,000 people, were in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle accidents. As a result, the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) gave funding to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a research center within New York University at Albany, to update its studies regarding the involvement of drugs and alcohol in fatal and personal injury crashes in New York.
The ITSMR found the number of intoxicated deadly crashes in 2019 had fallen 12% since 2015. Impaired fatal crashes made up 38% to 51% of all deadly accidents during the four-year span from 2015 to 2019. In 2018, nearly half (42%) of reported impaired fatal and personal injury crashes happened on weekends, and 58% happened at night (from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.). The study showed that 51% of the intoxicated fatal and personal injury crashes that year involved more than one vehicle, and 35% involved just one vehicle. Cyclists and pedestrians were victims in 14% of the intoxicated fatal and personal injury crashes.
In 2019, three-quarters of intoxicated drivers in fatal accidents were male. That same year, drivers between the ages 21 and 29 made up 30% of impaired fatal and personal injury crashes. Drivers between the ages of 30 and 39 made up 27%. Drivers 60 and older made up just 8% of impaired fatalities and personal injury crashes, despite making up 30% of the licensed drivers in New York. Also, 4% of these crashes involved people under the legal drinking age of 21.
Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Common injuries sustained by victims of drunk driving accidents in New York include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
- Fractures and broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Burn injuries
- Disfiguring facial injuries and scars
- Soft tissue injuries
You Could Be Owed Compensation
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the drunk driving truck accident, you could be entitled to various types of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Contact a New York Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured from a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, you might be eligible to pursue a claim for financial compensation. At Hach & Rose, LLP, our skilled and compassionate personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you hold the negligent party accountable. Call now for a free and confidential consultation.
There are always risks as we go about our days, but winter provides a wealth of additional opportunities for accidental injury. With icy sidewalks, treacherous roads, falling ice, and more, we must be aware of the potential dangers. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most common personal injury claims that occur in the winter.
Slip and fall accidents
Slip and falls aren’t always just a painful and embarrassing accident – they can be extremely dangerous. Many falls occur in the winter due to business owners that don’t clear snow thoroughly, or at all. Property owners must shovel snow from public walkways within a “reasonable” timeframe. They are not required to have a completely clear sidewalk while a storm is still in progress, but once the storm is ended, they must make a safe pathway for shoppers and passersby. If business owners don’t shovel properly and prevent ice from building up, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur.
Icy roads and auto accidents
Winter storms also lead to icy roads, which cause thousands of accidents each year. When the roads are slippery, every driver has a duty of care to drive as cautiously as possible. Drivers must adjust their speed, brake carefully, and leave plenty of room between their car and the car in front of them. If possible, you should avoid driving in icy conditions altogether unless it is absolutely necessary. We’ve all seen the one driver who is completely ignoring the icy roads and zooms around everyone else. This is how injuries happen. Unfortunately, here in New York this is all too common.
Construction site accidents
Falls are among the most common causes of injuries for construction workers. Once you’ve added snow and ice into an already dangerous job site, you have a recipe for potential disaster. The heights workers must reach on job sites make falls that much more hazardous. This can lead to head injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Even simple snow removal, if it is on an unsteady surface such as decks, scaffolding, or a rooftop, can be an opportunity for serious injury. Job sites must provide their workers with appropriate safety equipment, including additional materials to adapt to snowy conditions. If they fail to provide adequate equipment for construction workers, they can be held accountable for any injuries that result.
Take precautions in the winter
To the best of your ability, take extra care during the winter months. Check your local news station for weekly weather reports and consider checking a convenient app, like the one Weather.com offers, for day-to-day updates. When shoveling your sidewalk, be sure to thoroughly salt so that you don’t allow ice to build up. If you are elderly or have physical limitations, don’t risk it. Paying someone else to do it is a far better solution than suffering a severe injury. Finally, be sure to wear quality winter boots that will protect you from frostbite, slush, and ice.
Contact a New York Attorney
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are well versed in winter accidents and are ready to review your case. Call our office today at (212) 779-0057 to speak with a member of our team.
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