$30 Million Child Victims Act Verdict for 53-Year-Old Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Our client, today a 53-year-old father of two, was just 10 years old when he began being sexually abused by his fifth-grade teacher while he was a student at an elementary school in Rockville Centre, NY. The abuse continued for more than three years until Plaintiff was in ninth grade. Pursuant to the recently passed Child Victims Act, our client, represented by Partners Frederick Aranki and Scott Occhiogrosso, filed a civil lawsuit against his abuser.
Following a heavily defended trial, the jury unanimously returned a verdict of liability against the Defendant and awarded our client a total of $30,000,000. This is believed to be the first Child Victims Act verdict on a defended case in New York State.
Court and County
Our client is currently a 53-year-old father of two teenaged daughters working as a self-employed financial advisor. He was sexually abused over the course of more than three years by his elementary school teacher, beginning when he was 10 years old.
Description of Case
In January 2019, the New York Legislature passed the Child Victims Act which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo in February 2019, granting victims of childhood sexual abuse the ability to file a civil lawsuit for damages against their abuser, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
Plaintiff’s abuse began in 1979 when he was just 10 years old, attending elementary school in Rockville Centre, New York. The Defendant was Plaintiff’s fifth-grade teacher. The Defendant groomed the Plaintiff over a period of months, drawing him closer while he was his student by inviting the Plaintiff to spend time with him alone at lunch, both in school and outside of school, spending time with him after school in his classroom, and playing racquetball and soccer with him alone at various locations. Eventually, the Defendant began initiating inappropriate conversations with him related to sexual acts which escalated to sexually abusive acts by the Defendant. The abuse continued for more than three years. The vast majority of the abuse occurred in the Defendant’s personal vehicle, usually in remote areas of public parking lots. The abuse continued until 1983, when Plaintiff was in ninth grade.
This case was vigorously contested by the Defendant who denied the Plaintiff’s allegations both at his deposition and during his trial testimony. He claimed that our client’s accusations were fabricated and denied any relationship apart from being his fifth-grade teacher for one year.
The case went to a bifurcated trial in Nassau County Supreme Court, which began on October 3, 2022. Plaintiff’s emotional and courageous testimony recounted the horrific details of the abuse that he endured from ages 10 to 14. Plaintiff called his parents and childhood friends as witnesses who testified that they witnessed the Plaintiff and Defendant alone together on many occasions at different locations. This testimony directly contradicted the testimony of the Defendant, who claimed he only spent time alone with the Plaintiff on a few occasions. Plaintiff also called as witnesses two high school friends to whom he confided in about the abuse when he was a senior in high school.
On October 12, 2022, the jury unanimously returned a verdict of liability against the Defendant, finding that he sexually abused the Plaintiff while he was under 17 years of age. On October 17, 2022, during the subsequent damages phase of the trial, the same jury rendered a damages verdict awarding the Plaintiff a total of $30,000,000.
As for compensatory damages, the jury awarded the Plaintiff $6,000,000 for past pain and suffering and $4,000,000 for future pain and suffering. Our client also requested that the jury award punitive damages against the Defendant. The jury awarded $20,000,000 in punitive damages. This verdict is believed the first defended Child Victims Act verdict in the State of New York.
Our client was forced to bear the weight of his abuse for many years, confiding in friends and family but only receiving minimal professional psychiatric treatment. As a result of these experiences, he suffered psychological and emotional trauma and traumatic stress related to the sexual abuse.
A jury awarded our client a total of $30,000,000. The verdict includes $6,000,000 for his past pain and suffering, $4,000,000 for his future pain and suffering, and $20,000,000 in punitive damages.
This matter was handled by Partners Frederick Aranki, Esq. and Scott Occhiogrosso, Esq.