On February 14th, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law. At the signing ceremony he singled out only one lawyer for his advocacy for sexual abuse victims and being a pioneer in his support of the Child Victims Act – that lawyer was Michael Dowd. Watch Cuomo’s remarks here. (The Governor discusses Mike’s efforts at about 8 minutes into his remarks.)

Michael Dowd has the skills and years of experience representing survivors throughout New York to help guide them through this emotionally difficult and critically important life journey to obtain the justice they deserve.


In 2007, he obtained an 11.45 million dollar jury verdict against the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This stands as the largest sexual abuse verdict against a New York area Diocese.

The Child Victims Act will take effect on August 14, 2019. A survivor will then have one year to file a lawsuit. Contact Michael Dowd now to learn your options.



Religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Jewish organizations have long covered up the problem of their leaders sexually abusing children. Victims sexually abused by their religious leader like a priest, minister rabbi or elder or any, are entitled to justice for the injuries they suffered.

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Private day and boarding schools as well as public schools owe every student the duty to protect her or him from sexual abuse by its teachers. Teachers who sexually abuse exploit the trust placed in them by their students. Unfortunately, many schools have ether ignored complaints of sexual abuse or sought to cover-up them up.

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Scoutmasters, sports coaches (like gymnastics and swimming) and Boys and Girls Club leaders to name a few, all are mentors to the children with whom they work. For all the good they do, many of these youth organizations have long-known about the problem of their employees and volunteers sexually abusing their youth members.

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Michael Dowd Can Help You Obtain Justice

The number of people sexually abused by priests, rabbis, other clergy members, scoutmasters, teachers, coaches and youth leaders is staggering. But tragically, most victims of sexual abuse are too embarrassed, ashamed and confused to seek the legal help they deserve. A further problem facing victims is that the representation of a sexual abuse survivor requires that the attorney possess the necessary experience and understanding of the problem of child sexual abuse. While the internet today is full of attorneys advertising to represent victims of sexual abuse, it is difficult to find a New York-based attorneys who has decades of experience and skill in civil child sexual abuse cases. Remember, it is easy to create a persuasive website, but having the necessary New York sexual abuse litigation experience, as well as the knowledge of the emotional plight of sexual abuse survivors including how to properly interview and advocate for a survivor, takes years to develop.

With the signing of the CVA into law by Governor Cuomo, many attorneys are now advertising for victims to contact them. Sexual abuse victims need to be very cautious in selecting their attorney. It is too easy for an attorney with little or no experience in sexual abuse to put up a persuasive website, so as a victim you need to make sure the attorney really has the skills and experience in sexual abuse that you as a survivor require.  As a sexual abuse survivor, you need to make sure you hire an attorney with real skill and significant experience in sexual abuse cases. When you are considering attorneys to represent you, Michael Dowd welcomes you to compare his experience and knowledge in sexual abuse cases to that of other lawyers now advertising for clients.  One way to help you make the right choice of a lawyer is to ask the following questions:

  • How long has this firm or attorney actually been representing victims of sexual abuse in New York?
  • What is their track record of representing sexual abuse survivors in New York? That is how many victims has the lawyer actually represented in the last 25 years?
  • Is the lawyer New York-based with his main office in New York or is the lawyer’s main office out of state?
  • Has the attorney or law firm ever taken a sexual abuse case to trial in New York and if so, when and what was the verdict?
  • Has the New York media ever solicited opinions from the attorney on sexual abuse issues or reported on any of the lawyer’s sex abuse cases?
  • Do a Google search on the attorney or law firm yourself and determine how often that attorney’s name is associated with sexual abuse cases or issues.
  • When you get answers to all these questions, you will be ready to make your choice for an attorney to represent you in this most important journey to get justice for the wrongs done to you.

Survivors of sexual abuse deserve a skilled experienced advocate like New York attorney Michael Dowd.

Michael Dowd’s Experience in Representing Victims of Sexual Abuse

Several years before the Boston Globe exposed the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Michael was fighting for victims of sexual abuse in New York. Michael had what is believed to be the first sexual abuse case ever go to trial against the powerful Archdiocese of New York. In the 1999 trial, Michael represented a boy who had been sexually abused by his elementary school principal in the Bronx. Just three days into the trial, the case was settled.

Michael’s work on behalf of sexual abuse victims does not stop with representing Catholic Church abuse survivors. He has also represented a wide range of New York abuse victims including victims of boy scout sexual abuse. In 2001, years before the issue of Boy Scout abuse gained national attention, Michael represented a  scout who was sexually abused by his Scoutmaster.

After the Globe Spotlight series exposed the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese, lawsuits were filed against Dioceses around the nation. Because of his reputation and track record representing sexual abuse victims, many victims of Catholic clergy abuse sought Michael’s assistance. Michael filed several multi-plaintiff lawsuits between 2002 and 2003 against the Brooklyn Diocese, the Rockville Centre Diocese and the New York Archdiocese. At the time, to the best of Michael’s knowledge, no other lawyer filed a similar number of lawsuits against all three New York metropolitan area dioceses.

Around the same time that Mike filed these large multi-plaintiff cases against area dioceses, Mike also represented a teenage boy who was sexually abused by Reverend Michael Hands of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

In 2007, Michael sued the Diocese of Rockville Centre again. This time a  jury rendered an 11.45 million dollar verdict on behalf of  two sexually abused plaintiffs. According to the New York Times, it was one of the largest verdicts ever entered against a Roman Catholic diocese and stands as the largest jury verdict against the Catholic Church in New York state.

Mike Dowd has also been an advocate for parishioners who seek to hold their religious institutions accountable. In 2013 he represented Sam Kellner, an Orthodox Jew, who reported his son’s sexual abuse to and was in essence punished for it. Ironically, a criminal case was ultimately brought against him. Michael and his associate represented Kellner in that case and the charges were dismissed.

In 2015 Michael sued the Rockville Centre Diocese and the Vincentian Order. This time his client was a seven-year old-girl who had been sexually molested by Rev. Augusto Cortez in 2014. Cortez had previously been convicted in 2009 of molesting a female student at a Brooklyn Catholic School. He molested Michael’s client when he was still on probation for the 2009 conviction. That case was resolved in 2018.

In March of 2017, Michael obtained what the Daily News termed, “a historic 20 million dollar jury award” in Connecticut involving a woman who had been sexually abused by her father.

Michael’s most recent sexual abuse case was just filed in October of 2018 against the Rockville Centre Diocese. The case involves a 15 year -old girl who was sexually abused by the music minster, Efrain Villafane at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Villafane pled guilty to third-degree rape in 2017. The case is now just in its early stages.


The effects of childhood sexual abuse don’t disappear with time. For victims, the effects are forever, and the consequences don’t just hurt victims, but their families and loved ones as well. Survivors of sexual abuse deserve help now, and Michael Dowd can help. For a free consultation, contact Michael today.




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