FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6, 2023
Adult Survivors Act lawsuit: Cruz v. NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
Maggie Cruz used an Ancestry DNA test to track down her mother’s rapist. Now, she’s suing the institution that let it happen and then covered it up
ROCHESTER, NY – Survivors Law Project is proud to represent Maggie Cruz in a new lawsuit filed on behalf of her mother I.C., a severely developmentally disabled woman who was raped and impregnated by a caretaker in 1985 while living under the care of New York’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
This groundbreaking litigation led by victims’ rights law firms C.A. Goldberg, PLLC and Crumiller PC was made possible due to the Adult Survivors Act, a state law that temporarily lifts the civil statute of limitations for adult victims of sexual assault for a period of 1 year.
Maggie alleges that while I.C. was living at Monroe Developmental Center (MDC), OPWDD discovered and subsequently covered up an escalating pattern of abuse leading to her mother’s violent rape by a staff member. When OPWDD discovered that I.C. was five months pregnant in May 1986, it told her family that it was investigating and that it would be filing a police report. These were lies.
For her part, Maggie spent the majority of her life not knowing who her father was and generally struggled with her identity and mental health. In 2019, at age 33, Maggie began investigating the circumstances of her birth. Through her own investigative efforts, including records requests and an Ancestry DNA test, Maggie was able to identify her father: a former caretaker at MDC who lived in Rochester and looked after I.C. around the time she was attacked.
Records retrieved from OPWDD and local police departments reveal that OPWDD failed to report the rape to the police or seriously investigate the circumstances of I.C.’s pregnancy. Shockingly, rather than taking steps to root out the violent perpetrator within its walls, MDC enabled I.C.’s rapist(s) by recommending she go on birth control or undergo a tubal ligation.
The case is No. E2023002220 in New York State Supreme Court, Monroe County.
Statement from Carrie Goldberg and Susan Crumiller, Co-founders of Survivors Law Project:
“Residential homes for our society’s most vulnerable people – people with severe developmental disabilities – have the duty to keep residents safe. Safety means vetting and supervising employees. We represent a severely disabled nonverbal woman who was raped in the ‘80s while in the care of a state home. She was forced to give birth to a daughter, Maggie. Now decades later, Maggie brings this lawsuit on her mother’s behalf. We could not be prouder of Maggie for the ultimate act of love – holding OPWDD accountable for the trauma her mother endured.
“This is what is so revolutionary about the ASA – it allows us to not only hold individual predators accountable but the institutions that enable and empower them. It’s important for survivors to understand that the Adult Survivors Act is not just a law for privileged individuals to file lawsuits against celebrities. It’s a historic opportunity to hold unsafe institutions of all kinds accountable for targeting the most vulnerable members of society here in New York – no matter how long ago that harm happened. We are honored to be leading that charge.”
Statement from Maggie Cruz:
“My mother has had a hard life, and I hope this lawsuit will help her get the care that she deserves after OPWDD failed to protect her from her attacker 37 years ago. I live a blessed life and I thank God for my amazingly supportive husband and five kids, who give me the strength to lead with compassion and grace every day.”
Read the lawsuit:
Caroline Knecht, C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
Jacob Eidinger, Crumiller PC