For Greenberg, the issue is personal. He said he was molested in 1966 when he was 7. He said he was visiting his father at the now-shuttered upstate Cohoes Memorial Hospital when a worker offered to give him a tour of the nearby X-ray room. Greenberg's parents let him go.
"Back then, who would think anything like that would happen," he said.
The hospital staffer took him to the X-ray room, suggesting they go upstairs and look around.
"He wanted to abuse me and molest me," Greenberg recalled. "I tried to run away and he took me and lifted me up. He took me to a room . . . and hung me over the ledge of the building and said if I didn't do what he wanted, he'd let me go."
Greenberg said he managed to briefly get away, but the worker caught him and, this time, held him upside-down in an elevator shaft. The worker pulled the youngster in and molested him. He then gave Greenberg some coins, told him if he told anyone, he'd kill his family, and walked him back to his father's room.
Greenberg said nothing, but his parents knew something was wrong. He would shake and didn't want to take showers or baths. His mother eventually asked him if anything happened and he told her.
Greenberg's father went to the hospital a month later and was told the worker had been fired because of other reported incidents. Police told his father to forget about it, that no one would believe the boy. The case, they said, wasn't worth pursuing.
"My father contacted an attorney and he basically said the same thing, that juries don't believe kids," he said.
Greenberg said he went public once before — in 1996, when he heard about a case of a man who abused 150 kids over four decades. Greenberg called the detectives in the case even though by law he could no longer bring charges because too much time had passed.
The detectives learned that the man once worked at the hospital where Greenberg said he was attacked. Greenberg said he ran ads in a local paper that resulted in about 100 people coming forward to police to say they were abused by the same man, who ultimately was convicted and is still serving time in prison.
Greenberg said if a reform law is passed, he most likely would not sue his attacker "since it probably would be a waste of time."
"But there are people out there who can and should be able to sue," he said. "That's the purpose of the bill."
He said he disagrees with the Catholic Church and other groups that say they could be financially ruined if there is a one-year window to sue for past victims where the legal time frame has run out under current law.
He said for many victims, it's more about healing than the money.
"Not everybody wants money," he said. "The majority want to heal and want to find out the true facts. In a lot of cases, to get the facts, you have to sue. These are not frivolous lawsuits. They're lawsuits so people can get healing and get answers."
Hi, my name is Connie Altamirano, and I was born in Brooklyn NY, where I was sexually abused and raped as a toddler by my step-grandfather. I still live in the same place where the sexual abuse and rape took place until I was around 2nd grade. The mental abuse and verbal abuse did not stop until my early twenties.
When he finished assaulting me, he would say he would kill me and my mother if I said something. He had a record of domestic violence at Precinct 104 on Catalpa Ave. in Ridgewood, Queens. It’s the same precinct my mother called for help when she found out about my abuse. That day something horrific happened. After I was raped, I sat on a chair frozen with a dollar in my hand that he gave me. My grandmother came home and asked: “Why are you sitting there looking into space?” and “Did you steal that dollar?” She went and got a belt and hit me over and over again. Then I blurted out what her husband did to me and that he said I earned it. My grandmother yelled at me and called me a liar and accused me of trying to steal her husband. I cried while waiting for my mother to pick me up after work. My mother came and my grandmother told her: Maria, take your daughter; she's a trouble maker.
My mom asked me what happened and I told her what my step-grandfather was doing to me. Then my mother spoke with her relatives and told them what was happening, and I was afraid for my life and my mother's. I felt I had opened my mouth when I shouldn't have. Then my mother called the police and relatives came over. My grandmother found out my mother had called the police and she came running down and got on her knees to beg my mother and me to stay silent. My grandmother forced her two youngest children to beg for their fathers’ life in front of me and my mother. The police arrived and interviewed my mother and relatives. I was frozen, scared, and crying, waiting to get killed by my rapist.
The police concluded the interviews and left. I never saw them again. Later a social worker came who spoke with my mother and looked at me and left. I never saw her again. And I was only 8 or 9 years old. As a child I struggled in school year after year not understanding what happened to me and why this was happening to me. I was relieved when I was in school, but I was scared to be released to go home to get raped again. I suffered from migraines flashbacks, PTSD, panic attacks, nightmares, and was afraid of everyone. I cried in school and was never able to concentrate and learn in school. I was suicidal and attempted to kill myself twice in elementary school. I was angry at everyone who failed me and I didn't understand why my life didn't matter to anyone. I remember on holidays I was locked up or placed in a room for my safety while the rapist enjoyed the family party. I was told: Stay here so he doesn't see you. I lived in the rapist's prison half of my life, and now, as an adult survivor, I live imprisoned by the effects I suffer of sexual abuse as a child. I went through life looking for a cure and hoping someone or something could fix me. I didn't find one. Time and time again I was feeling like a failure. I finally made it to the 9th grade, and couldn't handle the boys flirting with me, and I feared I would get raped or killed, so I dropped out of school for my safety. I stayed in my room where no one could see me and I couldn't see anyone.
I lived and still live in fear of being raped and killed. I have many medical issues related to this traumatic abuse. This monster lives free with no guilt or remorse. I lived decades of no self-worth, voiceless, in pain, and struggling to survive just one more day. Then I would exhale the next day out of relief that I had made it to the next day. The quality of life that survivors have is affected by feeling that our lives don't matter and that we don't count….that we are not part of society and the attitude that we should just get over it! For a long time, I felt like a failure because I didn't fight my rapist. I disengaged. I floated away into my own world. I fight a battle to survive every day. I carry my sexual assault baggage with me every day. Every survivor is unique. I have triggers every day and take extra precautions and measures to accomplish any one thing. That doesn't make me weak or uneducated. Every victim/survivor is unique and needs to find their way to validate their life. I’m still navigating my survivor identity, and sometimes have to remind myself I’m a survivor, no longer a victim. Why? Because the flashbacks, triggers, and nightmares bring me back to when I was a child getting raped and waiting to get killed.
I ask everyone to think about the worst thing that's ever happened to you. How much time do you give it thought in your day? How much does it play out in your day-to-day living? I thank Senator Young for not only giving me the opportunity to speak, but for validating my life here today. Allowing me to speak indicates that my life does matter and my voice counts too. The importance of this bill passing is to give us an opportunity to have justice. For me, it’s justice for the girl inside who still cries. But it is also to protect our children in the state of NY.
Many victims of child sexual abuse have committed suicide. We must not forget them. They are our brother and sisters. I'm among the 93% percent of victims of child sexual abuse whose perpetrator is in the family or a friend of the family. My case fell through the cracks, and I'm here so it does happen to another little girl or boy. I ask you to pass the Child Victims Act, not next year, but this year. Not just for me, but for all the kids of the state of New York. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Mr. Lazarus is a former United States Marine, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Helmand Province and Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in Operation Khanjar with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in 2009.
The Following Excerpts are from the book, “You Are Not Alone: True Stories of Sexual Assault, Abuse and Harassment from Around the World” by Jyssica Schwartz
“I was a bully,” CK said. This was during a recorded phone conversation I was having with my childhood rapist while working with police and the district attorney ‘s office of Westchester County, New York, in late 2017.
CK did have similar characteristics to a bully. He was significantly bigger, taller and strong than I was, and five years my senior. Most 4-year-olds are rather helpless against a 9-year-old, as are most 9-year-olds against a 14-year-old.
CK often hurt my physically, belittled me, and made threats against my life, but the difference between a stereotypical neighborhood bully and CK is the constant rape which I and other children had to endure for nearly a decade.
Playdates, weekends, birthday parties and holidays, which I’ve been told are cherished moments for many children, are dark and partially repressed memories for me of being threated and viciously raped. After years of sexual assault, his flaccidity turned into erections and his threats became deeper and darker.
Aside from what I could refer to as “normal” sexual acts between two consenting adults, CK had myself and other children preform strange and usual acts. Whether it was “stretching exercises” when he would take turns pulling out our genitals as far as they could reach, standing in line swinging our genitals as he masturbated, increasing our tolerance for testicular torture, playing video games as I preformed oral sex him on him, or forcing me to preform cunnalingus on a young girl as she attempted to scream for help. Her screams were met by CK’s hands, dragging her by the hair and down an entire flight of steps as she attempted to escape. He was clearly dangerous and capable of severe physical harm. CK would always tell us if we told an adult, he would kill us.
I believed him.
I remember one specific time, CK sat us down in front of a drawing he had done of an underground dungeon with many different rooms and compartments all designed for his sexual fantasies. We were told we’d start construction in the following days – forced labor. And like slaves, we were forced to dig at his parents’ property. Needless to say, a small group of children with shovels were not able to complete his sex dungeon, and we were sexually assaulted again for our poor efforts.
Not only did my parents know, they didn’t stop it. Many adults knew and did nothing.
I contacted CK’s father, also on a recorded line. He admitted to knowing about what CK had done to me, saying “…you are not telling me anything I didn’t already know about.”
After keeping my secret for decades, and armed with these and other recorded conversations, I finally believed this sick and twisted individual would be brought to justice. But I found out that the district attorney could not press charges against CK because of an antiquated statute of limitations.
The last correspondence I had from law enforcement was on November 8, 2017 at 8:52 a.m. Central Time, from a detective at the Westchester County special victims’ unit: