New York Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is sadly a widespread problem in New York. For survivors of child sexual abuse, it’s important for you to know you’re not alone and that there are people ready to help you heal.

Know the Numbers: Child Sexual Abuse in New York

About 4.2 million children under the age of 18 live in New York. That’s enough children to pack more than 58,500 standard school buses to capacity. Sadly, as many as one in four girls and one in eight boys will be sexually abused before turning 18.

In New York City alone, there were at least 12,658 allegations of child sexual abuse made in 2013. The number, which is the most recent figure available, is down from the 14,194 allegations made in 2011 and the 14,425 made in 2010. However, child sexual abuse is a highly underreported crime.

More than 30 percent of all reports of child abuse and neglect in the city originate in the Bronx — the highest percentage of all the boroughs, according to a 2015 report by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. Brooklyn, however, was the borough with the most child sexual abuse allegations in both 2011 and 2010. The following table shows a three-year breakdown of child sexual abuse allegations in the city’s five boroughs.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in New York City Boroughs

  2013 2011 2010
The Bronx 3,563 4,014 4,134
Manhattan 1,620 1,669 1,722
Staten Island 710 816 797
Brooklyn 3,560 4,065 4,216
Queens 2,329 2,832 2,773

Sexual Abuse by Clergy in New York

Sexual abuse by members of the clergy continues to roil the Catholic Church.

In New York specifically, victims who had come forward in 2013 or earlier publicly accused more than 306 priests of inappropriate sexual behaviors, including sexual abuse, child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography, according to a database. The following table shows the number of priests publicly accused of sexual crimes in the different church districts across the state.

Priests Publicly Accused in New York

Location Number of Priests
Diocese of Albany 46
Diocese of Brooklyn 54
Diocese of Buffalo 17
Archdiocese of New York 77
Diocese of Ogdensburg 8
Diocese of Rochester 27
Diocese of Rockville Centre 57
Diocese of Syracuse 20


The Vatican announced in 2014 that it had punished 3,420 priests worldwide since 2004 for sexually abusing thousands of children. Another 903 victims accused 505 priests of child sexual abuse between July 2014 and June 2015.

Of this total:

  • 367 were diocesan priests;
  • 106 belonged to a religious order;
  • And 31 were incardinated elsewhere.

Victims also accused six deacons and 59 clerics of child sexual abuse during the same period. Of the identified perpetrators, 42 percent of them had been accused in previous years.

Child Sex Abusers in New York Churches & Schools

In the past, predators in New York have targeted victims through well-known institutions such as Catholic churches and schools. Several Archdiocese of New York institutions, for example, have recently garnered attention in connection with child sexual abuse allegations, specifically in the Bronx. The institutions include:

Holy Rosary Church in Baychester

In 2016, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York told parishioners that an allegation of child sexual abuse at Holy Rosary Church in the 1980s was “found to be credible.” A 43-year-old man told police in August 2016 that a priest named Anthony Giuliano had molested him at the Bronx church about 30 years ago. The man was about 15 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

St. Barnabas Church

The Archdiocese of New York removed Richard Gorman from ministry in 2016 after he was accused of sexually abusing minors when he was a leader at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx about 30 years ago. The archdiocese said it immediately reported the allegations to law enforcement officials, who deemed the allegations to be credible.

Cardinal Hayes High School

Robert Harrison, a priest who taught and coached basketball at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, admitted in 2015 that he had sexually abused minors in the 1970s and 1980s. The school and the Archdiocese of New York immediately dismissed Harrison from his position at the high school. Harrison said he also abused children in Manhattan and Milwaukee.

Prominent New York Clergy

Over the years, some respected and well-known priests have carried out heinous crimes against children, while other prominent clergy have taken steps to compensate survivors of child sexual abuse and to keep children in churches safe.

Monsignor Charles M. Kavanagh

When he was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor in the 1980s, Charles M. Kavanagh became “the most influential New York cleric to be swept up in the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church,” according to The New York Times. Kavanagh was removed from his position in the Archdiocese of New York and as the pastor of St. Raymond’s Church in the central Bronx.

Rev. Edward A. Pipala

Edward A. Pipala told the Archdiocese of New York, “I think I need some help,” after a mother accused the former Staten Island Catholic school teacher of sexually abusing her son. The archdiocese decided not to report the abuse to police and instead ordered Pipala to begin therapy and sent him to a parish in Westchester County. Over the next 15 years, Pipala went on to run youth groups in two different parishes and then became a pastor at a parish in Goshen. During that time, he allegedly molested as many as 50 boys, according to a New York Times report.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York

Pope Benedict XVI named Timothy Dolan Archbishop of New York on February 23, 2009. Seven years later, in October 2016, Dolan announced that the Archdiocese of New York had established an independent program to compensate victims of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn

Pope John Paul II appointed Nicholas DiMarzio to serve as the spiritual leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn. In a letter published on the Diocese of Brooklyn website, DiMarzio acknowledges the importance of helping victims of child sexual abuse by clergy.

Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Buffalo

Richard J. Malone became the 14th bishop of Buffalo in August 2012. Four years later, on October 17, 2016, Malone authorized the official child sexual abuse policy of the Diocese of Buffalo.

Bishop Terry R. LaValley , Bishop of Ogdensburg

On April 30, 2010, Terry R. LaValley became the 14th bishop of Ogdensburg. In a letter on the Diocese of Ogdensburg website, LaValley encourages victims to report child sexual abuse and to seek help with the healing process.

The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester

Salvatore R. Matano, the ninth bishop of Rochester, has called the issue of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Church a “tragedy” that has “caused much pain, alienation from the Church, hardship and understandable anger.”

John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre

Pope Francis appointed Jon O. Barres to serve as the fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre in December 2016. A year earlier, a family sued the Diocese of Rockville Centre, alleging it had been “negligent, careless and reckless” in failing to properly train and supervise Augusto Cortez, a priest who allegedly molested two Long Island sisters and pleaded guilty to forcibly touching a 12-year-old girl in Brooklyn. The family also claimed the diocese failed to warn the family about the priest’s “propensity to sexually molest youth.”

Robert Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse

Robert Cunningham, the bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, was criticized for his testimony in a 2011 deposition, in which he referred to a child molested by a priest as an “accomplice” when discussing the ritual of confession. The deposition was in response to a federal lawsuit filed by a man who said a priest in the Syracuse diocese sexually abused him as a child. Cunningham later said in a letter that victims of abuse are never at fault.

Helping New York Victims Heal

Childhood sexual abuse is very confusing for victims, especially when it involves a trusted adult. Victims may lose self-respect, blame themselves or think something is wrong with them. If childhood sexual abuse goes untreated, long-term effects can continue throughout adulthood.

Symptoms may include:

  • PTSD and anxiety;
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts;
  • Sexual anxiety and disorders, such as having too many or unsafe sexual partners;
  • Problems saying no to people and issues in relationships;
  • Poor body image and low self-esteem;
  • Unhealthy behaviors, including alcohol and drug abuse, self-injury, or eating disorders.

If you were sexually abused as a child, it is important for you to get help. Our team of experts is ready to assist you. We’ve helped hundreds of child sexual abuse survivors get compensation that can be used to rebuild their lives.

Archdiocese of New York Compensation Program

The Archdiocese of New York has established an independent compensation program to help bring a measure of peace and healing to those who were sexually abused by members of the clergy.

The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) is for people who were sexually abused before the age of 18 by archdiocesan priests and deacons in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, or Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. Beginning February 1, 2017, the program will consider claims made by victims who have never before told the archdiocese of their abuse. This includes claims that are decades old.

If you decide to come forward and seek compensation from the church, our team of experts will help register you for the program and will guide you through the process at no cost. To protect your privacy, IRCP will not publicly share any information included in your claim, though new claims will be forwarded to the local district attorney’s office and the archdiocese for review.

Compensation from the church can help you get the treatment you need, and coming forward about your abuse can help protect future children by exposing perpetrators and raising awareness.

Child Sex Abuse Resources in New York

Different resources are available to help victims of child sexual abuse. Some are for reporting purposes; others help victims get the treatment they need.

To Report Child Sexual Abuse:

  • 911: If you believe that a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.
  • The New York State Child Abuse Hotline: If you suspect child sexual abuse, call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 800-342-3720. The 24/7 hotline relays information from the calls to the local Child Protective Service for investigation, monitors their prompt response and determines whether there are prior child abuse reports.

For Health Services:

  • The New York Center for Children: The New York Center for Children (NYCC) provides free evaluation and therapy services to victims of child abuse and their families. NYCC serves children from all five boroughs of New York City. Services include therapy, medical examinations, and crisis intervention and counseling.
  • The NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Child Protection Team: The Child Protection Team at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center evaluates children who are suspected victims of sexual abuse. The team serves victims living in the city’s five boroughs.

Get Help Now

For a free, confidential consultation, call or fill out a form to speak with one of our team members.

View Sources

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