Attorneys representing sexual abuse survivors are expected to file hundreds of lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and other organizations beginning Wednesday.
That's the first day of the one-year period, created by New York's Child Victims Act, during which victims can bring civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers, without regard to how long ago the abuse took place.
The act is expected ot trigger lawsuits against a wide range of organizations and individual. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is reportedly bracing for claims that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Buffalo attorney Steve Boyd, working in partnership with the St. Paul, Minn.-based law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, says he will file 83 lawsuits against the diocese, just after midnight Tuesday.
Boyd said at a Tuesday news conference that he had prepared up to 130 lawsuits involving the Buffalo diocese, including dozens that target individual priests.
The accused priests have served at parishes throughout Western New York in a period that spans from the early 1960s to the 1990s.
Several survivors, gathered at Boyd's office, said the abuse caused years of pain, depression and strained familial relationships.
“I think it’s important to them to finally have their day in court. It’s a day of reckoning for their abusers and the people who protected them for so long," Boyd said.
The local diocese has acknowledged childhood sex abuse allegations against nearly 80 priests and clergy members. However, the diocese has excluded priests who had only one abuse allegation that occurred after their deaths.
In announcing their planned lawsuits, Boyd and Anderson identified 11 clergy-members who have been accused of abuse, including two nuns and Fr. Gary Bagley, who served as youth minister for the diocese from 1986 through 2001. They also identified 58 locations where the accused clergy worked and where the alleged abuse took place.
That list includes eight parishes in Niagara County.
Two previous reports on abuse allegations in the Buffalo diocese, published by Anderson & Associates, showed 16 accused priests served at parishes in Niagara Falls, four served in North Tonawanda parishes and four in Lockport.
Other reports have identified over 150 clergy members in the Buffalo Diocese who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct,
“There’s going to be a lot more victims than we already know of when these brave people come forward," said Judith Burns-Quinn, Buffalo coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Boyd, whose voice can be heard nearly around the clock in radio ads soliciting sex abuse survivors, said the claims in the lawsuits brought under the Child Victims Act will be a revelation to the public.
"People will be able to learn the depths of the depravity of the abusers," Boyd said. "And of the people who were in a position to stop this and who turned their backs on their flock."