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10 people file Child Victim Act lawsuits against Diocese of Brooklyn for alleged sexual abuse, with one case dating to the 1950s

2019-09-10

Ten alleged victims of sexual predators working in the Diocese of Brooklyn filed new lawsuits against the church, with the oldest of the abuse cases dating to 1952, their attorneys announced Tuesday.

A half-dozen priests, four religious brothers and a lay teacher were accused of assaulting the underage victims, with the litigation filed anonymously Monday under the lookback provision of the state’s Child Victims Act.

“From the survivors that have come forward to us, we were able to get names, investigate their claims confidentially, and then discern their truth to be credible,” said lawyer Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys representing the defendants.

Several of the cases dated back well into the last century, with one plaintiff accusing a Franciscan priest of abusing him between 1952-1956 at Our Lady of Peace parish in Brooklyn.

A Congregation of the Mission brother was charged with sexually abusing a child in 1963, while the late Msgr. Fursey O’Toole allegedly abused a boy in Brooklyn for nearly a decade in the 1980s, according to the court papers.

“To the survivors, who have come forward, we express deep gratitude,” said Anderson. “And to the survivors who are finding that voice and sharing with us as we excavate and disclose this information that the public needs to know, we express deep gratitude.”

Adriana Rodriguez, press secretary for the Brooklyn diocese, accused Anderson of “trying these cases in the press" and defended the church against allegations of sweeping the problem under the rug.

“The Diocese of Brooklyn takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously," she said. “On the 10 new cases, we are just learning about them and need to carefully review the allegations made in these lawsuits. Today and every day, we stand with victim-survivors on their journey toward healing.”