Child sex abuse victims cannot wait any longer

With less than two months left in the legislative session, it looks like once again lawmakers will leave survivors of child sex abuse behind and fail to pass meaningful reforms to our statute of limitation laws. All New Yorkers, not just survivors like myself, should be disappointed that Senate Republicans choose to hide behind legislative procedures and avoid a vote on the Child Victims Act, instead of committing to helping victims.

New York’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes are the most restrictive in the country. Survivors have only five years after they reach legal age to file criminal or civil charges against their abusers. I know first-hand how inadequate this amount of time is; it took me a decade to share my story of clergy abuse with my family and more than 30 years to speak publicly about it.

My abuse occurred in 1980 in Johnstown, Pa., by Father George Koharchik, who was my teacher and coach. He was also a trusted friend of the family who had a weekly bowling game with my parents. His betrayal led me down a road of depression, drug addiction and attempted suicide. It made learning difficult and relationships hard.

I’m fortunate that I have been able to build a successful life — I’m married now and own a restaurant in Long Island City — but I know others that haven’t been so lucky. Many battle mental and physical illnesses and struggle to get the help they need.

The Child Victims Act rightly recognizes how difficult the healing process is by eliminating the reporting deadline and giving survivors of past abuse a one-year period to file claims. For more than a decade, survivors have been trying to get this legislation passed, which despite receiving broad support from victims, advocates, justice reformers and many legislators, is blocked time and again.

Senate Republicans must reconsider. These restrictions leave survivors without justice and help abusers go free. Just as abusive priests were moved from town to town with no warning to parents or parishioners, today most of these priests aren’t registered as sex offenders, even though investigators have termed them predators and the number of children they harmed is staggering.

While we are forced to wait for our laws to catch up, we must take other action so that the perpetrators of these crimes become known and can be stopped.

This year, clergy abuse survivors in New York have a small window of opportunity to report their abuse and they must seize it. The Archdiocese of New York, which encompasses Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island and several surrounding counties, has established its own compensation plan, separate from the courts. It allows victims to register previously undisclosed claims against priests.

This window is only open until July 31, 2017, and I urge survivors to register for the program before it’s too late.

The Archdiocese of New York is the second-largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States. If the program is successful here, it could set a precedent for the rest of the country and New York can be a model that encourages the church to establish similar plans in other states.

Registration doesn’t mean acceptance of compensation and it doesn’t have to be made public. It simply keeps the door open for future discussions. While this program doesn’t absolve the Church of what happened, I believe that as more survivors speak up, it will be harder for the Church, and lawmakers, to ignore us. We must use every avenue available to hold our abusers accountable while we are prevented from using the courts.

From my own experience, I know the long and difficult healing process for survivors of child sex abuse, which is only compounded by the lack of legal recourse and inability to bring our abusers to justice. It’s a journey that never ends and one that should not, and cannot, be timed against a clock. Lawmakers need to commit to supporting survivors and pass the Child Victims Act.

Original Source

Former Assistant Director of Queens Pre-School Provider Pleads Guilty to Stealing $5 Million Intended for Special Needs Students

Defendant Diverted Education Funds for Personal Use;
Will Be Sentenced to Prison Time

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that Rabbi Samuel Hiller, the former assistant director of Island Child Development Center, once one of New York City’s largest providers of special education services to pre-schoolers with disabilities, pleaded guilty to stealing $5 million in city and state funding between 2005 and 2012 — money that was intended for special needs students between ages three to five.

Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private not-for-profit company that is now defunct, was located at 1854 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway, Queens, and primarily provided services to pre-school children in the communities of Far Rockaway in Queens and Williamsburg and Borough Park, in Brooklyn.

Comptroller DiNapoli said, “Stealing from the public is bad enough, but exploiting small children to pay your plumber and support your for-profit camps is reprehensible. I thank District Attorney Brown for partnering with my office in the fight to end special education fraud in New York state.”

District Attorney Brown said, “The public funds provided to Island Child Development Center were earmarked for special needs pre-schoolers with disabilities. Instead, the defendant chose to divert millions of these funds for his own purposes. While it is disheartening to see a betrayal of the public trust of such magnitude as exposed here, those who engage in frauds of this nature will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 59, of Far Rockaway, Queens. Hiller appeared yesterday afternoon before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas and pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny. Additionally Hiller will forfeit approximately $1 million in seized assets, sign a confession of judgment for $3 million, pay an additional $1 million in restitution at the time of sentencing, June 15, 2017, and make a full and truthful completion of a “Statement of Financial Condition.”

District Attorney Brown and Comptroller DiNapoli said that Hiller is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison. However, if he fails to pay the full additional $1 million in restitution at sentencing, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years in prison. Similarly, if any falsehood is found on his Statement of Financial Condition, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years of incarceration.

Hiller and his three co-defendants — Ira Kurman, 54, of Hewlett, Roy Hoffmann, 53, of Woodmere, and Daniel Laniado, 44, of Brooklyn — were indicted on the alleged thefts in 2014. All were accused of illegally diverting more than $12 million of the $27 million ICDC received in state funding to their relatives, their for-profit businesses and for personal expenses including jewelry, a family wedding and home renovations.

Kurman had been the former Executive Director of ICDC; Roy Hoffmann had been hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the state; and Daniel Laniado, while not employed by ICDC, was a self-described “investor” in ICDC.

Kurman and Hoffman, who previously pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny for their roles in the scheme, are awaiting sentencing, which will include making restitution. The case against Laniado is presently pending in court.

District Attorney Brown and Comptroller DiNapoli pointed out that New York State’s Education Law requires that the State Education Department meet the physical and educational needs of children with disabilities. Additionally, within the city of New York, the Department of Education contracts with private service providers to deliver services for those who require them, including Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT) who provide education services in children’s homes and other venues.

The thefts were discovered after the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli notified ICDC and specifically, Ira Kurman, that it planned to conduct a routine audit of SEIT funds provided to ICDC. When auditors arrived for the meeting, in July 2012, they were informed that Kurman had left his position and had taken his books and records with him. After further investigation, DiNapoli referred the case to the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the two offices partnered to fully expose the fraud.

The investigation was conducted by the District Attorney’s Detective Bureau and his Economic Crimes Bureau.

The case was investigated by Comptroller DiNapoli’s Division of Investigations and Division of State Government Accountability.

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Department of Education and the DOE Deputy and Assistant Auditors General for their assistance in the investigation.

Assistant District Attorneys Eleonora B. Rivkin and Charissa Ilardi, of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Gregory C. Pavlides, Bureau Chief, and Kristen A. Kane and Christina Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chiefs, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco.

DiNapoli has identified fraud and improper use of funds in a recent series of audits of special education providers. In addition to this case, his investigations have resulted in multiple criminal convictions and the recovery of more than $9 million in stolen public funds. His office has conducted 91 audits of pre-school special education providers, finding nearly $59 million in unsupported or inappropriate charges.

State law, proposed by DiNapoli, now mandates audits of the more than 300 pre-school special education providers in the $1.4 billion program by March 31, 2018.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.

Bais Rivkah Strike Ends: Regular School Hours Friday

ais Rivkah Girls’ School of Crown Heights has announced that all grades will be returning to their regular school schedule tomorrow, Friday, May 5th, putting an end to a month-long strike by the teachers of grades 1-3 due to lack of pay.

The following is a statement released by the school announcing the good news:

SOURCE http://crownheights.info/communal-matters/574982/bais-rivkah-strike-ends-regular-school-hours-friday/#comments

 

Bais Rivkah Classes to Resume; Issues Unresolved

he parents of Bais Rivkah students of grades 1-3, whose teachers have been on strike since before Pesach due to lack of pay, have just been informed that school will resume tomorrow, Wednesday, on a modified schedule. Unfortunately, the problems underlying the strike have yet to be resolved.

The following is the full text of the letter received by the parents:

Dear Parents,

School will IYH resume tomorrow, Wednesday, 7 Iyar, May 3, for grades 1-3 with a modified schedule.

The day will begin for grades 1-3 at 10:00 am and dismissal will be at 2:30 pm. The day will be divided between Hebrew and English teachers and regular lunch will be served.

IMPORTANT DISMISSAL INFORMATION – Dismissal for all students of grades 1-3 will be on East New York Avenue at 2:30 pm. There will be no busing. Students who have permission to walk home alone will walk from that exit. Parent pickup both by car and in person will be at the East New York exit. Please be prompt as there will be no proper supervision after 2:35 pm.

Unfortunately, the situation which led to teachers leaving the classroom is still unresolved – just as before Pesach, teachers are owed almost half a year’s salary from last year and a growing number of checks from this year. The administration of our school remains paralyzed. We have turned to Rabbonim requesting their assistance and we urge parents to do everything they can. We leave the rest in the hands of Hashem.

We are hopeful that in the days and weeks ahead we will see our students, our daughters, flourishing again in the halls and classrooms of Bais Rivkah.

Wishing you much continued nachas.

Sincerely,

Mrs. C.E. Feldman
Mrs. D. Brawer

Striking Teachers to Parents: It Hurts Us Just As Much

The teachers of Bais Rivkah who are currently on strike due to months of owed pay have a message for the parents of their students: “this is just as painful for us as it is for you.”

The following is the full text of the letter they sent on Sudnay:

Dear Parents,

WHO IS ON STRIKE!

Our past week has been quite challenging. We are running from school to home, and some to strange houses/shuls- to conduct an atmosphere of learning so our kinderlach, do not miss out on learning.

Yes, one day of missed teaching is WRONG! How can someone take achrayus for a student to have 1 day without structure- let alone all this time. Each day and every hour missed may have negative effects on our precious kinderlach.

We all feel that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! It is time for our children to go back to regular learning in a proper educational setting.

It is time for THOSE RESPONSIBLE to stand up to their call of duty. They need to ensure a proper learning schedule in a proper system- in school.

We, the teachers, are workers.

Workers – who want to come and teach.

Workers – who sincerely want the best for our precious kinderlach!!

Workers- being held HOSTAGE by the many months, yes months, of working with no pay.

How can a teacher, a relied-on breadwinner of the family, teach with the worries, stress, and hardships which come along with no money?

How do you expect a teacher to fulfill her job fully? You have locked us up. We have no choice. YOU, the ADMINISTRATION-BOARD are taking way too long to work out your differences.

Stalling with time is PARALYZING our school.

YOU are responsible for the learning of our children.

How does one have the CHUTZPAH, OUTRIGHT CHUTZPAH! To keep these children out of school? This is not a teacher’s strike, it is an administrations-board’s responsibility of having a functioning school!

How will YOU answer the Rebbe when asked about these precious children?! Parents, we are aware of your frustration. We are parents too!

Please remember, if you don’t want another strike, we need to focus all of our pressure on those responsible.

Call the ADMINISTRATION-BOARD and find out why it is taking so long to smoothen out their differences. That is the ONLY way we will have our children back in school!

With tears,

 

SOURCE

why can’t we get a normal jury

A Long Island jury, after seven tumultuous and teary days, delivered a stunning acquittal to a man charged with sexually abusing his foster sons over a period of 19 years.

The Suffolk County panel found defendant Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu not guilty of 17 criminal counts for what prosecutors had called a relentless reign of sexual abuse and terror.

“Difficult deliberations, sleepless nights, very difficult work,” juror Gregory Condemi, 59, of Ridge, L.I., said after the verdict was read. “People were physically ill. One girl had high blood pressure.

“There was dizziness, fainting, stomach problems.”

Ex-foster kid: L.I. adoptive dad sexually abused him for 10 years

The cascade of “not guilty” for each charge came despite graphic and grotesque testimony of rampant sexual and physical abuse from all eight of the foster kids inside the defendant’s Ridge home.

Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, stood silently with tears welling in his eyes outside the courthouse after the jury let him walk. He faced up to 50 years in prison.

In contrast, one of his foster kids, 29-year-old Mark Gonzales-Mugaburu, was left devastated and weeping by the verdict.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Mark, who was legally adopted by his foster dad. “Our fight, our testimony just went down the drain. He always had the system wrapped around his pinky. He did it again.”

Jury still has no verdict in L.I. foster father’s sex abuse trial

Even worse, he said, was the worry that none of the boys were safe anymore.

“We have to live with this fear for the rest of our lives, that we got physically, mentally and sexually abused — and he’s a free man today,” he said.

The eyes of several jurors were also glistening when they returned with the verdict at 11:30 a.m.

 

 

SOURCE