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2 New Suits Are Filed As Child Victims Act Window Is Extended

A Jamestown church has been named in two new Child Victims Act lawsuits for abuse said to have taken place in the early 1960s and mid-’70s.

Both complaints, filed late last week in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County, names Holy Apostles Parish as the defendant.

One victim, only identified as “AB 279 DOE,” claims they were sexually abused by the Rev. John D. Lewandowski from about 1962 to 1963. The victim was about 13 to 14 years old when the alleged abuse took place at the then-Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Jamestown.

“Plaintiff was a student and participated in youth activities and/or church activities at Ss. Peter and Paul,” the suit claims. “Plaintiff, therefore, developed great admiration, trust, reverence, and respect for the Roman Catholic Church, including defendants and their agents, including Fr. Lewandowski.”

The suit later adds, “As a direct result of the foregoing, Plaintiff sustained physical, emotional, and psychological injuries, along with the pain and suffering.”

The victim is being represented by the New York City-based Jeff Anderson & Associates and attorney Steve Boyd of Williamsville.

Lewandowski, who died in 1982, has been previously named by the Diocese of Buffalo as a priest accused of child sexual abuse. He was named in a Child Victims Act suit filed in October 2019 by a Jamestown man who said he was abused when he was about 13 years old.

Some of the alleged abuse involving Lewandowski and the victim was said to have taken place in the church’s basement.

Holy Apostles was also named in a suit filed by a victim claiming to have been abused between 1973 and 1974 when they were 7 to 8 years old by the Rev. Martin Pavlock. The victim, identified as “AB 301 DOE,” is being represented by Jeff Anderson & Associates and attorney Steve Boyd.

Pavlock was also named by the Diocese as a person accused of sexual abuse. The former pastor served at several churches from 1967 to about 2003, including many within Chautauqua County.

WINDOW OFFICIALLY EXTENDED

People who were sexually abused as children will have more time to file legal claims under a new state law against individuals and public and private institutions after concerns that the pandemic was keeping survivors from coming forward.

Advocates and survivors had been pressing for an extension of the Child Victims Act amid the shutdown and disruption caused by the virus, including the closure of courts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday he signed the latest extension of Aug. 14, 2021, for the legislation.

The law lifted the statute of limitations even for allegations that were decades old, initially for a filing period of one year. New York’s law allows individuals to file civil lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse before they reach 55 years of age.

“After fighting for the law’s passage for 13 long years, many feared the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the courts meant that the clock had run out on their opportunity to seek justice,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat said.

The original deadline for those making claims under the Child Victims Act was Aug. 14, 2020. Cuomo initially moved the deadline to Jan. 14 with an executive order, and the new extension would extend it to Aug. 14.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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