Attorneys for the Diocese of Rockville Centre filed a court motion Tuesday that challenges the legality of the New York State Child Victims Act that recently sparked hundreds of lawsuits alleging decades-old abuse.
The diocese is one of several within the Catholic Church named as defendants in cases under the new law, but the defense is arguing that the one-year window that victims have to file suit is illegal and all cases should be thrown out.
“With this motion, the Diocese of Rockville and officials within the Catholic Church are demonstrating their cowardice, hypocrisy, and refusal to do what is right,” said Jennifer Freeman of Marsh Law Firm, who represents more than 700 childhood sexual abuse survivors statewide, including some on Long Island.
Besides the church, large institutions such as the Boy Scouts of America, foster homes, and other religious institutions have also been targeted under the law that went into effect in August. Survivors were previously time barred by New York State’s previous statute of limitations.
“For decades, the Church has been desperate to escape accountability and protect their institution at the expense of the most vulnerable among us,” Freeman said. “This legal gamesmanship clearly reveals that the church is still avoiding the truth and denying the negative impact its policies and practices had on the children entrusted to its care. We are confident that the courts will uphold the Child Victims Act and that justice will ultimately prevail for the thousands of New Yorkers impacted by childhood sexual abuse.”