Ex-West New York student alleges continued sexual abuse by deacon in lawsuit seeking $50M

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A former West New York football player at Memorial High School is alleging in a lawsuit seeking $50 million that a deacon, who also worked at the school, sexually abused him multiple times in the late 80s after making sure he was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

St. Joseph of the Palisades Church in West New York. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Defendant, Albert Sosa, as a deacon and clergy affiliated with St. Joseph of the Palisades Parish and St. Joseph of the Palisades Church, was perceived by M.A. as a spiritual and religious mentor, as well as an important and powerful person within the community,” the court filing reads.

“At all times material hereto, Albert Sosa was also a counselor and/or teacher at Memorial High School, a public school under the supervision of defendant, West New York School District. In this capacity, defendant, Albert Sosa, was perceived by M.A. as a respected counselor and academic mentor, requiring respect from students, such as M.A.”

The anonymous plaintiff, now a 48-year-old man who resides in Toms River, alleges that Sosa – who served at St. Joseph of the Palisades Church in West New York – first sexually assaulted him after inviting him back to his apartment after a football game in 1988.

At the time, the alleged victim was 15 years old and he said he went to the apartment with two friends and consumed alcohol until he passed out on Sosa’s couch.

When, he awakened, his friends had left and Sosa asked him to inhale the drug amyl nitrate and the deacon removed his pants before sexually abusing him – conduct that continued at the guidance counselor’s office at Memorial High School, the lawsuit says.

The led him to drop out of Memorial High School as a freshman and attend Englewood High School the following year, but this did not prevent the same pattern of behavior from continuing.

“The next calendar year, M.A. attended Englewood High School nearby to escape the sexual abuse by Albert Sosa,” according to the court filing.

“Despite transferring to a different high school, Albert Sosa would still drive by the area of Englewood High School, solicit M.A. in the neighborhood, pressure and persuade M.A. to enter his car, transport M.A. to his apartment, ply M.A. with drugs and/or alcohol, and then sexually abuse M.A.”

When the plaintiff transferred back to Memorial his junior year, sexual assault resumed in his office and at his apartment and this continued for a total of six years – the first sexual experiences of his life – ultimately leaving him to drop out of high school, the litigation claims.

Although the alleged abuse never occurred at St. Joseph of the Palisades, the church the plaintiff attended as a teen, he still attempted to solicit and persuade him to perform sexual acts.

As a result, the filing is against the Archdiocese of Newark, St. Joseph of the Palisades, the West New York School District, Memorial High School, Albert Sosa, John Does 1-10 and Doe Institutions 1-10.

The 10-count claim alleges negligence, negligent supervision, negligent hiring and retention, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, violating the law against discrimination, assault and battery, and punitive damages.

The lawsuit is seeking “an amount in excess” of $50 million, not including prejudgement interests, costs and damages, along with other legal and equitable belief the court deems appropriate.

Newark Archdiocese spokeswoman Maria Margiotta declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said they remain committed to “protect the faithful.”

“It would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation, but it is important to note that the Archdiocese of Newark remains fully committed to our long-standing programs to protect the faithful and will continue to work with victims, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations and bring closure to victims.”