NY Child Sexual Abuse Victim May Be Anonymous

NY Attorney Robert Friedman discusses a Child Victims Act case against the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn

Good Morning. I am Bob Friedman attorney with Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC. Welcome to the October 28th , 2020 edition of the Legal Survival Channel: Today’s Legal News You Can Use.

Plaintiff moved for leave to proceed anonymously in her Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn (FBB) .  She argued that permitting her to proceed under a pseudonym would spare her any stigma or embarrassment that may arise due to adjudication of  her case publicly. Plaintiff  submitted  a psychologist’s affidavit stating publication of  her name would take a heavy psychological toll on her, potentially inhibit her ability to continue with the suit and cause her to endure re-victimization.

FBB argued the presumption in favor of open judicial proceedings should outweigh use of a pseudonym as this was not an “exceptional” circumstance to afford plaintiff such protections. The New York Supreme Court, Kings County noted the right of the public, and press, to access judicial proceedings was not absolute as access may be respected while restricting sensitive information. The court ruled that FBB failed to provide a legitimate reason why plaintiff should not be afforded the protection of anonymity, noting no prejudice could be alleged while a detriment may inure to plaintiff. Thus, the court granted plaintiff’s motion finding that the  case involves alleged acts that will no doubt center on information about plaintiff of a sensitive and highly personal nature.

The court recognized that plaintiff, as the alleged victim of sexual abuse, has arguably suffered great emotional distress. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that plaintiff suffers from the lingering effects of emotional distress, embarrassment, and sexual dysfunction as a result of the alleged abuse. Plaintiff claims that denial of her motion would chill her, and other alleged victims of child sexual abuse, from coming forward with their claims.

The court ruled that a grant of anonymity impacts far less on the public’s right to open proceedings than does the actual closing of a courtroom or the sealing of records. Ultimately, the public has an interest in seeing this case determined on its merits, after the parties have had an opportunity to fully and properly litigate the issues presented. Anonymity, at this juncture, will preserve the integrity of that stated objective.

If you are seeking compensation for child sexual abuse, call Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC at 716.542.5444 for a free confidential consultation.

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