While You Were Out: Aug. 14, 2019

We’re over the hump, CivMixers. Wednesday has almost come and gone, and Thursday is just over the horizon there.

The Child Victims Act taking effect and the lawsuits that ensued dominated the headlines today.

The New York State Court system is expecting so many lawsuits as part of a new child sex abuse law that 45 judges – including 12 in New York City alone – have been set aside to deal exclusively with them, spokesman Lucian Chalfen said.

The law firm Weitz & Luxenberg said it has 1,200 clients across the state expected to file child sex abuse lawsuits, with plaintiffs ranging from teenagers to people their 90s. Only about 10 of those were expected to be filed today due to the “sheer volume” of suits.

The Boy Scouts of America is facing a new round of allegations that it knew for years about pedophile scout leaders — but covered up the scandal with its secret “perversion files.”

The Boy Scouts might end up filing for bankruptcy.

Long lists of institutions across the Capital Region are on the wrong side of dozens of lawsuits, like St. Colman’s orphanage, which is now a group home for autistic children in Watervliet.

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s estate is being sued under the Child Victims Act. It’s the first case against his estate under the law, and it was filed by Jennifer Araoz, 32, who says Epstein raped her when she was a teenager.

Araoz said Epstein preyed on her when she was a 14- and 15-year-old student at a performing arts high school in New York City. The lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court said a recruiter approached Araoz on the sidewalk of the school.

Araoz also sued the women she said helped Epstein, including Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime confidante and the daughter of Robert Maxwell, a British publishing magnate.

A number of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse within the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese were filed, including one that accuses Bishop Howard Hubbard, the former leader of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. His attorney says the allegation is false.

During his career, Hubbard argued that abusive priests could be rehabilitated and defended himself against accusations that he had been involved in sexual relationships with men – including a claims that he paid for sex with a teenage boy. A 2004 investigation paid for by the Albany diocese exonerated him.

“We support all survivors and the justice and healing that they seek,” said current Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger in a prepared statement. “But our mission goes way beyond.”

While some victims have been busy meeting with attorneys and getting lawsuits ready, others say they can’t find lawyers to take their cases.

In other news…

The yield on the closely watched 10-year Treasury fell so low today that, for the first time since 2007, it briefly crossed a threshold that has correctly predicted many past recessions.

The Dow dropped 800 points, or about 2.5 percent. Investors have been whipsawed in recent days from mixed signals emerging from the Trump administration about tariffs and the escalating trade war with China.

Epstein was confident he could fight the child sex trafficking charges against him and was in “great spirits” just hours before his jailhouse death on Saturday morning — even reportedly telling one of his lawyers, “I’ll see you Sunday.”

For all the talk from politicians and conspiracy theorists that Epstein should have remained under such scrutiny behind bars, prison experts say suicide watch is intended for only short periods because it puts too much stress on the staff and inmate alike.

Facebook has paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service, raising privacy concerns for a company with a history of privacy lapses.

United Airlines updated its alcohol policy after two pilots were arrested in Scotland for being intoxicated before a flight to New Jersey.

Several Philadelphia police officers were shot this afternoon in what police said remained an “active and ongoing” shooting situation.

In the wake of multiple mass shootings across the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will be proposing a new law to redefine domestic terrorism.

A former longtime member of the Halfmoon Planning Board was sentenced to a year on probation after pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents about $85,000 in payments he had received from a developer who regularly had business before the town.

A court hearing drew more than 1,000 people to Albany today who were there to protest a new law ending religious exemptions to New York school vaccination requirements.

State lawmakers repealed the exemption in June in response to a measles epidemic. A group of 55 families sued to stop the law from taking effect, saying it was hostile to their religious beliefs and should be struck down.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman argued that the Legislature passed the law in direct violation of religious freedom and a family’s right to express that freedom by refusing to vaccinate their children.

Republican state Sen. Bob Antonacci has been nominated to run for a judgeship in Central New York eight months after he was elected to serve in the Legislature in Albany.

City of Gloversville police are investigating after an infant died early today.

The College of Saint Rose graduate who inserted a “USB Killer” device into dozens of school computers in February was sentenced to a year in federal prison this week for causing more than $58,000 in damage to the computers, officials said.

A Hadley man is under arrest in connection with a crash that killed 16-year-old Hayden Bush back in June.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. faces an endorsement dilemma in the race to replace retiring Rep. José Serrano in the House of Representatives. Does he back his dad, controversial City Councilman and former Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., or his longtime friend and ally, Marlene Cintron?

State officials are beginning the process to apply for a Medicaid waiver in order to provide health care services to inmates about to be released from county jails and state prisons.

NY-24 Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter had to take steps recently to correct a campaign finance violation.

NY-27 Republican Rep. Chris Collins has repeatedly said he doesn’t plan to announce his intentions regarding re-election until later this year, but he’s raising campaign cash.

Meghan Markle may or may not have taken a secret trip to Ibiza with her husband, Prince Harry, and baby Archie to celebrate her 38th birthday.

The fallout from the Democratic primary for Commissioner of Finance continues in Saratoga Springs with attacks on the winner coming directly from fellow Democrats in City Hall.

A longtime Great Barrington, Massachusetts public servant was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court today. Prosecutors allege she stole over $100,000 from the town.

A state championship-winning ice hockey coach will not be returning to the Saratoga Springs High School bench come this winter season.

A whale was spotted frolicking in waters near the New York Harbor yesterday, according to footage posted on the NYPD Special Ops’ Twitter account.

Someone, somewhere, please adopt Larry. He’s a “good boy with a huge personality and a big heart,” says Steve Caporizzo.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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