A New York City Supreme Court Justice recently ruled against the Northeast Province of the Jesuit Brothers in a lawsuit filed under the New York State Child Victims Act (CVA).
The Jesuits believed that the public had the right to know the actual name of the accuser -- who filed under pseudonym, ‘ARK55 Doe’ -- but the Court concluded that the interests of the abused (in keeping the man’s identity private) outweighed the Jesuits’ reasons for seeking its disclosure.
Justice George J. Silver noted in his decision that, "it is axiomatic that the plaintiff should be afforded the protection of anonymity. To be sure, the instant case involves alleged acts that will no doubt center on information about plaintiff of a sensitive and highly personal nature.”
And sensitive it is. The plaintiff is alleging that “sexual abuse” had occurred at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx when the victim was a minor.
Attorney Jeff Anderson believes the judge's decision will benefit all victims of child sexual abuse, and that it would have had a negative, nationwide impact if it had been decided differently. “The prospect of the survivors under CVA of having their identities disclosed in New York would bleed across this country in a way that is incalculable,” Anderson said to The City.
Under the CVA, victims are permitted some anonymity when filing a lawsuit and that has prompted many individuals to come forward and assert their claims. The non-disclosure of their identities “will help more people come forward and as people come forward, that encourages more people. Everyone who comes forward has the potential to make children safer in the future,” said Brian Toale, a victim advocate with the Survivors Network.
“This is an important ruling to continue the longstanding practice of protecting sexual abuse victims from even more suffering,” says Debra Cohen, co-chair of Newman Ferrara's Civil Rights Group. “Clearly the intent here was to chill victims from coming forward. It’s shameful that the Jesuits pursued this tactic.”
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To read a copy of the court’s decision, click here.
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If you believe you have a claim under the law, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of our Civil Rights Group at 212-619-5400.