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ALBANY, N.Y., — Daniel Lewis has filed a lawsuit against The Diocese of Albany, New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the LaSalle School, the Christian Brothers, and perpetrators William H. Keyes and Fr. Joseph R. Romano, who were employed by LaSalle School to care for Daniel and other vulnerable boys who resided there in the 1980s.
Daniel was removed from his family by OCFS and placed at LaSalle School at age 14. Working in cooperation, OCFS and LaSalle implemented a pilot foster care program and placed Daniel in the home of Charles B. Burrell. The lawsuit alleges Burrell regularly sexually abused Daniel, for approximately a year, at which time the program is believed to have ended and Daniel returned to LaSalle.
The lawsuit alleges while in Burrell’s home, Burrell frequently invited William H. Keyes, who was employed at Lasalle, to sexually assault Daniel. Keyes was arrested in April of 1985 and convicted of promoting sexual performance by a child. It is believed that Keyes, a registered sex offender, resides in Albany.
The lawsuit also alleges all of the following:
When Daniel returned to LaSalle, he met Joseph R. Romano, a priest employed by the Diocese of Albany and by LaSalle as the coordinator of religious education. Fr. Romano roamed the School’s dormitory, socializing with the boys and interacting with William Keyes, who also worked at LaSalle. Not long after Daniel met Romano, this Priest began to sexually assault him. In addition to the horrific sexual assaults by Romano, Daniel was forced to watch Romano as he forced another boy to give him oral sex. In 2003, Fr. Romano was removed from the ministry for sexually abusing children. It is believed that Romano, who has never faced criminal penalties, is now living the quiet life in Florida.
Daniel files his lawsuit under the new NY Child Victim’s Act, that gives adult survivors of child sexual abuse until August 20, 2020 to file a civil lawsuit. Daniel discusses how this lawsuit is empowering: “For years, this was my shame. With this lawsuit, my shame ends. It is time to figure out why LaSalle, the Diocese of Albany, and others, put (and kept) these predators in positions of power and control over me.”
“These men were supposed to take care of me; instead, they harmed me in the worst way. They stole my innocence and destroyed my trust.” Daniel said.
According to Daniel’s attorneys—Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon & Weeks, and Patrick Noaker of Noaker Law Firm LLC, the lawsuit alleges several counts of negligence against the Defendants.
“This case is very upsetting,” said attorney Craig Vernon. Instead of protecting boys like Daniel, the Defendants put sexual predators in positions of power and control, allowing them ongoing access to vulnerable boys.”
“Preliminary investigation has revealed that there are likely other abuse survivors from LaSalle. This appears to be the tip of the iceberg,” Vernon added. “Daniel is shining a spotlight on past wrongs. For many, an important step in healing is taking this difficult step of coming forward and demanding answers.”
For a copy of the complaint and pictures, see: