Brooklyn Diocese and the New York Child Victim Act
As of June 2021, nearly 600 child sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Brooklyn Diocese. These lawsuits were mainly for the diocese’s protection of priests abusing their parishioners, especially children. Out of these 600 lawsuits, 571 were filed for priest abuse by survivors between August 2019 to December 2020 under the New York Child Victims Act or CVA. This number is the second highest in all of the New York Diocese.
What is the New York Child Victim Act (CVA)?
The New York Child Victim Act was signed into law on February 14, 2019. This Act primarily covers three main aspects, which are:
- Victims of child sexual assault are now allowed to bring civil lawsuits up to their 55th birthday. This new age limit has been helpful to survivors in enabling them to seek compensation and justice for the abuse they had endured. The previous age limit allowed by the law before the signing of the New York Child Victim Act was 23.
- In addition, this legislation would allow prosecutors to file criminal charges against abusers of many sexual offences committed against minors until the child turns 23. Before the signing of CVA, prosecutors are limited to filing criminal charges against sex offenders of minors up until the child turns 18.
- Lastly, the New York Child Victim Act would give survivors who failed to file their civil action before they reached 23 years old when the Act was signed into law a 6-month window to take action. This component has greatly helped victims file their lawsuits and explains the surge of lawsuits filed on August 2019.
Repeat Offender Was Named in At Least 18 Brooklyn Diocese Lawsuits Alone
One of the names that kept coming up in the lawsuits filed by survivors against the Brooklyn Diocese is Romano Ferraro.
In addition to the lawsuits against the Brooklyn diocese, where it named him as the claimant’s abuser, Ferraro has been named as the perpetrator in other cases in different districts and other states. The earliest allegation of abuse filed against Ferraro and the Brooklyn Diocese claims sexual crimes perpetrated by Ferraro that occurred between 1964 and 1968 when he was assigned to the Holy Family in Brooklyn, New York.
Romano Ferraro’s long career as a priest has been as extensive as his abuse of his young parishioners. Since his assignment at Holy Family, Ferraro has held at least 14 posts across New York City and Long Island and held positions at a handful of other parishes in other states, including Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, Maryland, and Massachusettes. Ferraro was only defrocked by the Catholic Church in 1988 after he was able to abuse numerous children, and decades after, they were aware of his criminal actions.
The victims’ lawsuits against the Brooklyn Diocese and the documents maintained by the Church show that Ferraro has been abusing young parishioners since 1973. However, the Church did not reprimand, impose serious consequences, or even report to law enforcement authorities the severe abuse Ferraro inflicted on the Church’s young parishioners. Instead, the Church has responded to the extreme abuse and crimes their priest is committing by re-assigning him to a Missouri parish. This reassignment has merely allowed Ferraro to exploit young parishioners sexually.
Finally, Ferraro was arrested in 2002 for repeatedly raping a boy from Billerica, MA, between 1973 to 1980. At his trial, Ferraro had also admitted to having sexually abused dozens of boys throughout his extensive assignments. Ferraro was convicted of life in prison on May 2004, and the Massachusetts parole board has rightfully denied his subsequent request for parole.
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