A group of law firms on Tuesday held a joint press conference in Manhattan to announce the filing of 10 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Following the signing into law of New York’s new Child Victims Act (CVA) in February 2019, beginning August 14, victims of child sexual abuse received a one-year window to file old civil claims for child sexual abuse, no matter when the abuse occurred. Since that time, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have come forward.
The law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Robins Kaplan LLP held the press conference to release what they are calling The Anderson Report on Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Brooklyn, which contains the identities, histories, photographs and information on 200 perpetrators accused of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Most of the victims were ages 30-70.
“This is one of the most important historic and culture-changing times of child protection in America, because of the opening of the [statute of] limitations,” Anderson told BK Reader. “In the past, every time we brought actions, they were shut down. So this will be considered a massive cleanup following a massive coverup.”
Of the 200 perpetrators listed in the report, most were retired, had passed away or their whereabouts were unknown, said Anderson at the press conference. But there were at least six in the report currently in various stages of active ministry.
The group fingered Monsignor Otto Garcia — an active pastor in the parish of St. Theresa in Woodside, NY, and a prominent member of the Brooklyn Diocese’s hierarchy– as an alleged longtime child sexual abuser and as someone who has worked for years to “fix” the system for his protection.
“Garcia has been involved in the hiding and concealing of this all these years,” said Anderson. “There have been two lawsuits brought against the Diocese of Brooklyn against him. Yet, they have chosen to keep him in ministry, as we speak. It’s important he is revealed and removed.”
Tom Davis said he was molested by Father Otto Garcia in the 70s, when he was a child: “I lived with that for over 45 years, never telling anybody,” said Davis at the press conference. “He was able to pick me out as a prime victim because my parents were very involved in the church and I didn’t think anybody would believe me. So I never said anything until after my parents passed.”
The lawyers also demanded a full disclosure by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese and the religious orders of the identities, histories and current whereabouts of all clergy accused of child sexual abuse.
“And to the survivors who are finding their voice and sharing it with us as we excavate and disclose this information that the public needs to know, we express deep gratitude… for their courage,” Anderson said.
“This is about accountability and cleansing. We’re asking the institutions to clean up their act and stop hiding offenders. The law opened up the chance for all of these people to have a chance to be heard, to be believed and to take action.”