City Settles Firehouse Child Sexual Abuse Suit for $3.25 Million

The City of Rye, New York has agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit brought in 2020 over conduct that took place in a firehouse in the 1970s. The suit claimed that two officers of the Rye Fire Department sexually abused a young boy, identified in the complaint as John Doe.

One of the officers, Lieutenant Elwood “Joe” Ferris, pled guilty in October, 1972 to first-degree attempted sexual abuse and received a five-year suspended sentence. The other officer was reportedly the fire chief. The abuse occurred between 20 and 40 times.

The suit was possible due to New York’s Child Victims Act, which allows the victims of child sexual abuse to sue those responsible until their 55th birthday. Under the prior law the victim had to file suit before turning 23.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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