“Flood” of Child Victims Act lawsuits await

Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Wednesday, a “flood” of lawsuits are expected to be filed related to the sex abuse of minors, including many against the Diocese of Buffalo. Beginning on August 14, and for the next year, adults who say they were abused as minors will be able to file lawsuits.

The Child Victims Act, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in February, eliminates civil statute of limitations for a one-year period.

In the 8th Judicial District of New York State, Administrative Judge Paula Feroleto convened attorneys and judges who are expected to be involved in the ensuing lawsuits, attorney Steve Cohen said.

“We’re working to streamline these cases and arrange for the discovery process to proceed in an orderly way,” said Cohen, who noted a “flood” of people are seeking justice.

“The courts have been getting ready,” Cohen’s partner, Will Lorenz said. “The attorneys who are representing the survivors have been getting ready.”

Cohen and Lorenz plan to file 25 lawsuits on behalf of clients Wednesday. Nine of them will be against the Diocese of Buffalo, including one on behalf of David Harvey.

“It’s mentally exhausting,” Harvey said. “For the past two weeks, I’ve had a headache.”

Harvey says when he was eight years old, he was abused by Fr. David Peter.

“I feel like there’s a responsibility I have to bring it forward and bring it in the public so people can understand that wasn’t just someone touching me over my clothes,” Harvey said. “It was violent. It was psychologically damaging. The effects lasted for well over a decade.”

Peter, who died in 2017, is not included on the diocese’s list of priests with substantiated claims of abuse against a minor.

Terry Connors, an attorney for the diocese, noted Peter’s name is not on the list because he is deceased and there is a single allegation of misconduct. Priests who fall under that category are not added to the list.

Note: Photo of Rev. Peter contributed by WNY Catholic

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