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Several CVA suits filed as window closes

A slew of new Child Victims Act lawsuits were filed locally as the extended “look back” window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims against their alleged abuser closed Saturday.

The bulk of cases just recently filed in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County name the Allegheny Highlands Council as a defendant. According to online records, 14 lawsuits were filed in the last week permitted under the law: two on Friday, Aug. 6; three on Monday; one on Tuesday; four on Wednesday; and four on Thursday.

More filings may show up on the state’s Unified Court System website after they are uploaded.

The 2019 Child Victims Act originally suspended the statute of limitations for a year to allow victims to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse against priests, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and other adults. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the pandemic had limited survivors’ ability to file claims and effectively prepare their cases with an attorney and, as a result, extended the window through this year.

Of the 13 cases filed since Aug. 6 in Chautauqua County, 12 name the Allegheny Highlands Council, one names Chautauqua County and one names both Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES and Frewsburg Central School.

Among the complaints:

¯ A former Frewsburg student who attended BOCES between 1986 and 1991 claims to have been abused multiple times by a special education teacher at the Hewes Center in Ashville. The abuse, according to the suit, occurred behind “tall and thick partitions in the classroom” and involved the teacher grooming the student, who was classified as special needs, “for the purpose of sexually abusing him.”

The victim claims to have told the principal of what had been going on, only for the abuse to intensify. The years-long incident caused mental, psychological and emotional injury, as well as “distress, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, PTSD, depression, thoughts of suicide and low self-esteem.”

¯ A Findley Lake resident and former Boy Scout claims to have been sexually abused by a scout leader or volunteer around 1982 at a camp owned by the local council.

“Neither Plaintiff nor his parents would have paid the defendants to allow him to be a member of their Boy Scout Troop, or to participate in their Scouting activities, if the defendants had disclosed to Plaintiff or his parents that they knew for years that sexual predators … were using their positions as Scout leaders and volunteers to groom and to sexually abuse children,” the lawsuit states.

¯ A group of six allege to have been abused in a single suit filed against the local Boy Scouts council. The separate incidents took place between 1952 and 2012. Two of the six plaintiffs still reside in the Southern Tier while the others live elsewhere across the country.

All six claim to be the “victim of sexual abuse and/or inappropriate sexual contact by a scout leader and/or youth scout leader and/or boy scout camp personnel.”

¯ A woman states she was sexually abused on repeated occasions — about 10 to 20 times — by her foster parent around 1986.

“Plaintiff informed her case worker about the sexual abuse she was suffering, but Plaintiff remained in the home following the disclosure and no action was taken to prevent further sexual abuse,” the woman’s claim against the county states.

¯ A man said he was sexually abused by the leader of a Dunkirk-based Boy Scout troop around 1963.

¯ A former Boy Scout and current Jamestown resident claims to have been abused by his scoutmaster based in Falconer multiple times around 1976. One incident reportedly took place during a scout camping trip and another during a scout meeting.

¯ One man claims to have been abused while a local Boy Scout around 1950, while another man said he was abused around 1985, in a joint suit filed against the Allegheny Highlands Council.

¯ In another joint suit, one man states he was sexually abused by a “scout leader and/or youth scout leader and/or boy scout camp personnel” around 1978, while another said his abuse occurred around 1986.

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