The Worst Of These Civil Lawsuits May Be Behind Us Yet

It’s still too early to know the full breadth of sexual abuse of innocent children that happened in our midst.

Hundreds of civil cases have been filed in the eight days since the Child Victims Act opened a one-year legal window for any civil claims against those who are alleged to have committed crimes against minors. The vast majority bulk of the cases in Western New York have been filed in state Supreme Court in Erie County, with the majority focusing on actions that allegedly took place within the Catholic Church, including five cases involving Chautauqua County churches. A good number of the claims against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo involve schools the diocese operated.

The Catholic Church was hit particularly had in the first wave of Child Victims Act lawsuits, with attorneys telling the Buffalo News that cases against the Boy Scouts are expected to be filed within the next few weeks, including at least 10 more cases in Western New York.

We won’t know until all of those hundreds of cases wind their way through the court process how bad the problem really was, and that type of resolution will take years. We also know that each and every one of the tales told in the court documents, if true, is shocking, saddening and maddening. The documents are publicly available and, frankly, not for the weak-stomached.

If there is one silver lining in this dark cloud of civil lawsuits, it is that most of the allegations, particularly in Chautauqua County, took place decades ago. One would hope that means the worst of it — and it is bad — may be behind us.