By Steve Orr (democratandchronicle.com)
Thousands of New Yorkers who were molested or sexually abused as children have been waiting for years — in many cases, for decades — for their day in court.
That day has arrived — and it began with a stunning barrage of lawsuits. By 5 a.m., lawyers had taken advantage of 24-hour electronic filing to submit 200 child sexual abuse lawsuits.
The number had climbed to about 350 legal claims by 8:30 a.m., and risen again to 385 by noon.
Thirty-six lawsuits had been filed in Monroe County, 35 of them against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester and one against the Webster Central School District and a former teacher and coach there.
In the latter case, a man who said he was a student at Klem Road elementary and Spry middle schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s said he was sexually harassed and abused by Ralph Wager, a teacher who coached soccer in Webster.
Wager, who left Webster years ago to coach college soccer in North Carolina, was convicted of molesting a boy in that state in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison.
A one-year window for filing old civil claims for child sexual abuse opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The window was created by the state Legislature’s adoption in January of the Child Victims Act, which makes it easier for accusers to seek criminal and civil sanction of their abusers.
In New York City, 154 suits had been filed by noon. Erie County had the highest single-county total, with 101.
Albany had 29, Nassau 25, St. Lawrence 15 and Onondaga 11. Westchester, Orange and Tompkins each had just one, while Rockland, Broome and Chemung had none.
Workers’ World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.