Two men have accused a priest, who is now dead, of raping them in the rectory at their Brooklyn parish in the 1980s. The lawsuit, was filed in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, names the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Church of St. Patrick. The victims have accused the Rev. John Abrams of raping them when there were students and altar boys at St. Patrick Catholic elementary school in Bay Ridge.
The boys were about 10 to 13 years old at the time of the alleged abuse. They allege they met Abrams, who was assigned to St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, while in sixth grade. Abrams befriended them and their friends. He drove them to different places, including the movies and the beach. During these rides, the lawsuit alleges that Abrams gave them beer, cigarettes and pornographic magazines. One victim claims as part of his lawsuit that Abrams lured him into his residence inside St. Patrick’s rectory and sexually assaulted him and raped him on numerous occasions.
Abrams was moved to another Brooklyn church in 1988. One year later he was placed on “sick leave” till 1997 when he retired. In the early 2000s, several other men accused Abrams of sexually abusing them while he was a pastor at Bayside’s Sacred Heart before moving to St. Patrick in 1982.
The Church’s Liability Under New York’s Child Victims Act
In February 2019, the state of New York passed the Child Victims Act, allowing child survivors of child sexual abuse and assault, including those sexually abused by priests, until 55 years of age to file a civil lawsuit against their sexual predators and the institutions that protected them. Criminal felony charges can be sought until the victim is 28 years old and misdemeanors can be filed until the victim is 25 years old.
Many of church and priest child sexual abuse victims have been trying for years to sue the church and their attackers but their lawsuits were thrown out because the deadline to file suit had expired decades prior. Under the CVA, victims now have a one-year window, until August 14, 2020, to file suit regardless of when they claim they were sexually abused. This means that if you were 23 years old or older on February 14, 2019, you must file a sex abuse related action against the appropriate defendants, including the church and other religious leaders, no later than August 14, 2020.
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If you or a loved one is the victim of child sexual abuse, you need to know how the Child Victims Act can help you get the justice you deserve. For more information or to better understand how this law can help you, please call our professional help center at 212-385-4410.