Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Justice late, not denied: New York to allow old abuse suits

Published:Monday | August 12, 2019 | 12:29 AM
This Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 photo shows Brian Toale shows a photo of himself at 16 years old in New York.  Thousands of people who say they were molested as children in New York state will head to court this week to file lawsuits against their alleged abusers and the institutions where they worked.  Toale, 66, who says he was molested by an employee at a Catholic high school he attended on Long Island, was one of the leaders in the fight to pass the Child Victims Act.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
This Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 photo shows Brian Toale shows a photo of himself at 16 years old in New York. Thousands of people who say they were molested as children in New York state will head to court this week to file lawsuits against their alleged abusers and the institutions where they worked. Toale, 66, who says he was molested by an employee at a Catholic high school he attended on Long Island, was one of the leaders in the fight to pass the Child Victims Act. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

ALBANY, New York (AP):

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people who say they were molested as children in New York state are expected to go to court this week to sue their alleged abusers and the institutions they say failed them, including the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, public schools and hospitals.

It’s all because of a landmark state law passed this year that creates a one-year window allowing people to file civil lawsuits that had previously been barred by the state’s statute of limitations, one of the nation’s most restrictive, that had prevented many victims from seeking justice for decades-old abuse.

Many won’t even wait a day. Michael Schall, 64, who says his scoutmaster in the Buffalo suburbs molested him for two years beginning in 1968, will be among those filing lawsuits early Wednesday morning. It’s not about money, Schall said, it’s about standing up for the “sweet, naive” kid he once was who had nowhere to turn.

“This is my chance to say, ‘This happened to me’,” said Schall, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. “It’s affected me in so many different ways in my life, in who I am. This seems freeing. It’s like I’m bringing something to light that’s been held in the darkness for so long.”

Wednesday could begin a year of financial reckoning for many large institutions that care for children. A similar law passed in 2002 in California resulted in Catholic dioceses there paying US$1.2 billion in legal settlements.