WPCNR WESTCHESTER LAW JOURNAL. From Greenstein & Milbauer, New York. February 22, 2021:
The number of former residents of The Children’s Village who have filed lawsuits accusing the Dobbs Ferry, NY, residential treatment center of physical and mental abuse has doubled.
Greenstein & Milbauer, the New York City law firm representing the men who now range in age from their 30s to their 70s, has filed an additional 10 abuse lawsuits against the residential treatment center bringing the number to 21 since the first case was filed in 2019. The window to file an expired or time-barred case was set to close August 14, 2020, but due to the disruption of the legal system by the pandemic the deadline has been extended until August 14, 2021.
The victims were all young boys when they were placed at the Children’s Village by courts or child welfare agencies. They recount how they were physically brutalized, raped, and humiliated by older residents. Similar sexual abuse was perpetrated by staff, including teacher aides, counsellors, and a former executive director. When the boys complained to social workers or other staff about the physical and sexual abuse, they were either ignored or threatened with violence.
“As our cases make their way through the courts, more men are stepping forward to share their painful histories,” said Robert Greenstein. “It has taken decades for some of our clients to open up about the abuse they suffered at the most vulnerable points in their lives. With the window of opportunity to obtain justice closing in August, we strongly encourage other victims to come forward and raise their voices now while they have this unique opportunity.”
He added: “Even after so many years have passed, these men still carry the burden of the horrendous emotional scars and pain they were so cruelly subjected to as children. Their stories of the culture of abuse that persisted for decades at The Children’s Village not only deserve to be heard, but by bringing them to light, it will hopefully spare future generations of children from being subjected to similar abuses. These courageous men truly deserve to be heard.”
The Children’s Village is a not-for-profit residential treatment center created in 1851 to provide a safe and nurturing shelter for children who are experiencing hardships at their homes. The abuse cases in the lawsuit occurred over a 25-year period from about 1970 to 1995.
The lawsuits accuse The Children’s Village of negligence in its hiring, training, and supervision, among other failures. Among the recent plaintiffs are:
- S.D., whose complaint was filed on Feb. 2, said that from 1992 to 1995 he was raped and beaten by older residents.
- J.P., a minor whose complaint was filed on Feb. 1, was placed at The Children’s Village in 2013 at the age of 8. During his stay he was beaten and sexually abused by older residents in his room and in the shared bathrooms.
- John Doe, whose complaint was filed on Feb. 1, was placed at The Children’s Village at the age of 12 from 1996 to 2001. He was sexually abused by residents and a staffer. During a psychiatric evaluation he told the doctor about the abuse and the doctor interpreted it as a “verbal slip.” Other staff dismissed or ignored his complaints about abuse.
- John Doe, whose complaint was filed on Feb. 3, was placed at The Children’s Village from 2002 to 2006 at the age of 12. He was sexually assaulted by older residents in his cottage, the shower and a van when the children were unsupervised. Some of the abuse occurred as night watchmen were asleep on the job. Two female staffers also sexually abused him.
The cases are being heard by Justice Steven M. Jaeger at the Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola. The cases were filed under the provision of the Child Victims Act.
In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act to ensure survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice, including the ability to file a case which had already been time-barred or expired for a one-year period.