Diocese of Brooklyn accumulates almost 600 complaints for sexual abuse of minors

More than 200 members of the clergy have been charged with child abuse.

Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Nearly 600 complaints of sexual abuse of minors have been filed against the Diocese of Brooklyn in New York, since a law was approved in New York state in 2019 that temporarily allows victims to sue, despite the prescription of the alleged crimes, reveals a report from a law firm.

The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese of Brooklyn, which encompasses the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, include 532 lawsuits against institutions under the control of the religious district and 301 of the alleged aggressors, 230 of them are members of the clergy, according to a document presented Tuesday by the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, which represents 127 of the complainants.

“To each survivor who has stepped forward and to each survivor who does so: it is an act of courage and we are grateful to them,” the lawyer said in a virtual press conference. Jeff Andrews, local media reported.

“They know that they have made a difference in protecting children in the future and in helping other survivors step up and share their secret, seek help and hope for healing,” he added.

The largest number of complaints against an individual were filed against the excommunicated priest Romano Ferraro, which has accumulated 18 lawsuits covering events that occurred between 1958 and 1991, and was described by the New York Times as the “most prolific pedophile priest on the east coast of the United States.”

While, the institution facing the most lawsuits is St Francis Preparatory College, in Fresh Meadows, in the borough of Queens, against which 21 complaints have been filed against 9 people for abuses that took place between 1959 and 2001.

The Child Victims Act came into effect in New York State in August 2019 and allows people who suffered child abuse a one-year window to file complaints against perpetrators, despite the statute of limitations for the crimes.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, extended that period one more year, until August 14, 2021.

Nearly a fifth of the more than 2,800 reports of sexual abuse filed in New York State as of December 31, 2020 They are related to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the law firm noted.

According to Andrews, the lawsuits filed so far are believed to be only a small portion of the abuses that took place.

“There is no doubt that, based on the data we have collected from survivors who have spoken so far, this is only a fraction of those who will step up,” he said.