More than 400 lawsuits were filed across New York state against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and other institutions Wednesday to mark the first day of a one-year window to file historic claims of child sex abuse. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said many more cases are in the pipeline, reports the New York Law Journal. Some 169 cases had been filed under the Child Victims Act in the five counties of New York City as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Archdiocese of New York and other Catholic institutions were the defendants in the vast majority of them. Most suits were filed by a single plaintiff, but in some instances, more than a dozen victims sued together.
Jeff Anderson, whose Minnesota firm Jeff Anderson & Associates represents victims of child sex abuse, filed 262 lawsuits against Catholic entities across the state Wednesday that named some 60 never-before-named perpetrators of abuse. The cases filed Wednesday may be just the tip of the iceberg, says plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael London, whose firm is investigating hundreds of potential cases against Catholic institutions and public and private schools across New York. There’s no reason “to rush to file today simply because they said go,” he said. “It’s going to be a long process. These are difficult cases. The evidence spans many years, decades. Memories can fade. … Our job is to corroborate as much as possible before we file.” State court officials have been preparing for the rush of Child Victims Act cases, training judges about the new law and assigning five judges to oversee pretrial proceedings.