What Are Your Rights: Child Victims Act Update

Recorded on July 13, 2022

The Child Victims Act extended the window for victims of child sex abuse to bring claims, but now that window has closed. In this week’s “What Are Your Rights” segment, Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to give a status check on where those cases go from here.

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Announcer: Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Reporter: The Child Victims Act extended the window for victims of child sex abuse to bring claims, but now that window has closed. In this week’s “What Are Your Rights” segment, Attorney Paul Harding, from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, gives us a status check on where those cases go from here.

So we now know that the time has expired for people to file these claims under this Act. So now what happens? And where do we stand now with these cases?

Paul: Right, so all the cases that have been filed are the cases, the only case, that are ever going to move forward. So litigation was proceeding, most recently, they came up with a mediation plan. So, a mediation plan, what that is, you think a third party could be a retired judge, in this case, it would be a series of mediators who get the parties together, and try to resolve the claim. What the lawyers for the plaintiffs did, and I thought it was a really good move, is what they did is they said, “Okay, we’ll consent to the mediation, but we’re not gonna halt the litigation.” Meaning, if we have trial dates coming up, we’re gonna keep those trial dates, you know, kind of keep the pressure on the diocese to resolve these in good faith.

Reporter: How does the mediation plan help move things along?

Paul: Well, the mediation plan is just that, right? Courts are very, very formal, and there’s all kinds of rules, and [inaudible 00:01:18] experts and delays and juries, and then you have juries that don’t work out, you got to start the trial again. Here, you just like sitting down at a table, and everybody’s kind of sharing information, and then this third party mediator, who has really just hired to do the analysis, and keep the conversation going, tries to resolve the case. So it really just cuts the time of this to incredibly shorter compared to a trial per case.

Reporter: Eliminating the trial is also good for the victims for a lot of reasons, right?

Paul: So these folks who go through this, you know, it feels like a revictimization going through a trial. Now there’s a small number of people say, “I want my day in court,” but as court approaches it’s still a very traumatic event. So as a general proposition, in cases like this, the less, sort of, spotlight that is on this, the happier they tend to be, and it tends to be less of an abusive situation. So it could work for both parties.

Reporter: And have any of these cases resolved already?

Paul: There has been one case that resolved recently. It was in the news, it resolved for $750,000. So, it sort of sets a standard other people are looking at. And this was a case where a priest who admitted to having about a decade-long sexual assault with one of the victims. So that did settle recently, probably brought about this sense of, hey, we should mediate these, because the flip side is…what the diocese has said they’re structurally in a corporate way very localized. They said, “Listen, if you all go to trial, we’re gonna declare bankruptcy, and then this thing’s gonna get delayed forever, and there’s gonna be resolutions that may be less favorable.”

Reporter: And we have more coverage on this tonight at 6:00 on CBS 6, hear from a local man who just settled an abuse case with the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. Liz Bishop sits down with him for an exclusive interview. And for more info covered in our weekly “What Are Your Rights” segments, or to send us a story idea, just head to our website, CBS6albany.com.

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