DNA search by daughter to identify father leads to rape lawsuit against NYS

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A local woman is suing New York state over an alleged rape 38 years ago.

It all started when the woman did a DNA test trying to find her father. Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean spoke with the lawyers behind this case.

The woman’s name is Maggie. The lawsuit says she knew she was a child of rape. It also says her mother’s rape was covered up by the state.

Maggie’s lawyers say the only way that got exposed is by Maggie looking for her father. 

“What strikes me the most emotionally is the fact that, if not for the pregnancy and then if not for our client’s investigation, no one would have ever known that this happened,” says member of Survivor’s Law Project, Susan Crumiller.

Susan Crumiller and Carrie Goldberg started the Survivor’s Project. Monday, they filed this lawsuit against the office of people with developmental disabilities. That’s the state agency that ran the Monroe Development Center on Westfall Road in the 1980s, and cared for Maggie’s mother known as “I.C.” 

The lawsuit says I.C was a 30-year-old with the “mental acuity of a two-year-old, in diapers and unable to talk, feed, or bathe herself.” But in 1985, she got pregnant. 

The staff at MDC blamed another resident and did not file a police report. Three decades later, the lawsuit says Maggie’s DNA test shows her father worked at MDC and was one of her mother’s caregivers. 

“Instead they covered it up for five months, didn’t tell Maggie’s mother’s parents that she was pregnant,” says Goldberg. “And never did a thorough investigation and lied about the investigation they did do. And they treated her like she was disposable.”

The lawsuit describes multiples cases of abuse at MDC in the 70s and 80s. 

“The safety and well-being of the people we support is OPWDD’s highest priority. We cannot comment on pending litigation,” says OPWDD.

The last resident moved out of this center 10 years ago. 

Brean: “Is the employee still alive?” 

Susan Crumiller: “Yes.”

The statute of limitations expired 20 years ago. Maggie’s father is not named as a defendant. 

<Carrie Goldberg: “The biggest offender in our opinion was New York State. There couldn’t have been anything more visible than the fact that a major crime had taken place our client’s mom. Our client is the proof of that.”

Brean asked to speak to Maggie and is working on that. 

This lawsuit is filed under the New York State Adult Survivors Act. That’s like the Child Victims Act, but it’s meant for people sexually assaulted after they turned 18, no matter how long ago it was. 

The window for these lawsuits closes at Thanksgiving.