UTICA - In a flurry of hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits filed statewide on Wednesday, were several local suits, naming familiar defendants.
The suits were made possible when New York State's new Child Victims Act went into effect on Wednesday, suspending the statute of limitations for certain crimes for one year. Some suits were electronically filed as early as 12:42 a.m.
Among six lawsuits against the Syracuse Diocese announced by law firms in Syracuse Thursday was one naming St. Peter's Church in Utica, where a male victim, now approximately 60 years old, claims Father Felix Colosimo was assigned at the time he abuse him.
"This happened in 1976 and at the time, the survivor was 17-years-old. He had been very active as a parishioner and an altar boy in the church and he was abused by Father Felix Colosimo," says Attorney Cynthia Lafave, whose firm is representing several alleged victims/plaintiffs. Lafave says the physical abuse was only part of the betrayal.
"They were threatened about things that would happen if they told by the very abusers themselves."
Also filed on Wednesday was a lawsuit against the Rome City School District and Stokes Elementary School. A then-11-year-old female victim claims she was abused by a band teacher, Michael Carletta, around 1989 or 1990. The Boy Scouts of America Leatherstocking Council also found themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Three now-adult male victims identified only by the initials J.D., R.S. and R.P., claim they were abused by a Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters, in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying, in part, "....first and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children..."
The statement goes on to say the Boy Scouts of America supports the complete elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for child abuse.
The New York City and Albany-area attorneys who announced the six lawsuits against the Syracuse Diocese on Thursday say it is just the beginning.
"This is a handful of survivors with whom we've worked and been able to start suit. We currently represent 22 survivors involving abuse by clerics in total, the Diocese of Syracuse," said attorney Jeff Anderson.