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Sex abuse lawsuits expected to be filed under Child Victims Act

August 08, 2019 11:23 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Wednesday opens the one-year window in which victims of childhood sexual abuse will be able to file a civil suit against their abusers. 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is preparing for the new law with a release of a letter to the faithful. That letter comes in the form of a video starting with Rochester Roman Catholic Bishop Salvatore Matano. 

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Matano outlines what is to come on Aug. 14, saying it may raise concerns about the clerical abuse scandal. 

The bishop explains that the New York State Child Victims Act allows victims to seek compensation. He then speaks specifically about the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and shares his feelings.

"I renew my most sincere apology to anyone who was harmed by a cleric or church personnel," Matano said.

The bishop also says the diocese has a record of responding earnestly to victims, providing counseling and arriving at settlements when victims have come forward. The bishop also addresses what this could mean financially for the local diocese.

"In order to address the financial impact upon our diocese, we are reviewing all possibilities."

Several months ago, the diocese set up an independent mediator to hear allegations of abuse and determine if and how much a victim should be compensated. The video goes on to say the church and the bishop, in particular, is there to listen and support victims. 

Attorney Leander James represents many of the victims who have already come forward.

"It gives these folks a forum to confidentially talk about what happens to them and, in doing so, I can tell you that the survivors of sexual abuse really reclaim their power," said James, in a recent interview.

Under the Child Victims Act, victim's don't have to accept the settlement offered by the diocese, but can file a civil case against the diocese.

The burden of proof in a courtroom would then have to be met. 

Credits

Lynette Adams

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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