3 adults, including a priest, a young resident of Mount Loretto sexually assaulted, allege lawsuit
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Three adults, including a priest, sexually assaulted him for six years while living at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin in Mount Loretto three decades ago, a former resident alleges in an explosive trial.
His attackers also threatened the plaintiff, who was in his early teens, with physical violence if he revealed what they had done to him, alleging a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New York.
Discouraged, the boy attempted suicide “on several occasions” while in Mount Loretto, but never received mental health care, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit was recently filed in the Supreme Court of the State of St. George, under the Child Victims Act. The plaintiff seeks unspecified pecuniary damages.
Passed in August 2019, the Child Victims Act created a one-year window for complainants of all ages to prosecute alleged perpetrators, regardless of when the abuse occurred.
This window has been extended until August of this year.
The law also allows victims of sexual abuse to prosecute their alleged abuser at any time before the age of 55.
The range of complaints filed under the Child Victims Act sent shockwaves through Staten Island.
Lawsuits have been brought against Roman Catholic schools and churches, the Boy Scouts, a Pentecostal church, a youth sports institution and even a man’s parents.
In addition to the Archdiocese, the plaintiff in this latest lawsuit sued Catholic charities on Staten Island, which the complaint alleges operated Mount Loretto in Pleasant Plains.
Now a resident of Georgia, the plaintiff is listed in court documents under the pseudonym “John Doe6”.
As a result of the alleged abuse, he suffers from “severe emotional trauma and distress” which has negatively impacted his life, according to the complaint.
“It is a real travesty and a shame that children who had nowhere to go were placed in an environment where they were regularly abused,” said Bradley L. Rice, counsel for the plaintiff. “These abuse survivors have a right to justice after all these years.
In an email, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, said: “The Archdiocese takes all allegations of abuse seriously and responds to those who present such allegations with respect and sensitivity. However, I cannot comment on the specific prosecutions brought under the Child Victims Act. “
According to the complaint, the complainant was placed in Mount Loretto around 1986. He was 10 or 11 years old at the time.
He spent the first year housed in the DDU unit. Then, in 1987, he was transferred to the RTC housing unit, the complaint said.
Once there, the house supervisor “began to prepare the complainant for sexual abuse,” according to the complaint.
The older man asked the boy to perform sexual initiation rituals, according to the complaint. He told the complainant that they were an integral part of the residential experience at that house, according to the complaint.
The sexual abuse escalated to the point where the supervisor assaulted him regularly until 1993, according to the complaint.
The supervisor threatened to physically injure the boy if the boy reported what he was doing to him, according to the complaint.
Specifically, the older man said he drowned the teenager, telling him “You are just a poor kid” and “No one would ever care,” the complaint alleges.
Despite these threats, the boy reported the abuse to a social worker and therapist in the winter of 1989 or 1990, according to the complaint.
However, nothing was done, and the abuse continued, the complaint alleges.
Two other adults also sexually assaulted the boy, according to the complaint.
One was an anonymous priest at Mount Loretto who the applicant was introduced to in 1990 or 1991.
Over the course of a year, the cleric assaulted the boy and threatened him as well, according to the complaint.
To ensure the youngster’s silence, the priest told the older boys to physically assault him, according to the complaint.
A female supervisor also sexually assaulted the complainant in 1988 or 1989, the lawsuit alleges.
She too threatened to win his silence, according to the complaint.
“As a direct result of his sexual abuse,” the boy attempted suicide several times while in Mount Loretto, according to the complaint.
But he claims he never received mental health treatment.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the supervisors and other adults at Mount Loretto “were sexual predators and sexually abused the plaintiff.”
The defendants also failed to protect the boy from abuse and had no policies in place to prevent child sexual abuse, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit is one of many filed over the past two years in which a number of former Mount Loretto residents allege they were abused by nuns, priests and lay workers at the former orphanage.
Some of the alleged incidents date back to the 1950s, the latest dating back to the early 1990s.
When the lawsuits became public in the summer of 2019, several former Mount Loretto residents rallied to the mission’s defense. They told Advance / SILive.com that they were not aware of any sexual abuse that took place on the ground, and that they had never heard of such incidents.
Mount Loretto has served as a children’s refuge from the late 1800s and has hosted thousands of children over its 100-year history. Many were court wards, either orphans or from broken homes and other dire circumstances.
In 1964, it was the largest child care institution in the United States. The average stay for most young people was three years, but some could spend their entire teenage years in the facility.
The end of the foster care service was announced in 1994. Today the campus is managed by Catholic Charities of Staten Island and houses two public schools, a senior center and a community center, a day care center. eating and a daycare.