Two former paperboys in Rochester, New York recently filed a new child sexual abuse lawsuit against the newspaper they worked for about 40 years ago. They claim that a district sales manager repeatedly molested them when they were between 11 and 13 years old.
This case joins others recently filed by other former paperboys who have made similar allegations.
Paperboys Allege They Were Abused by Sales Manager
The plaintiffs are in their later 40s now and allege that Jack J. Lazeroff, who was a district sales manager for the NY-based Democrat & Chronicle, oversaw their paper route between 1982 and 1985. According to their complaint, the staff at the paper was well aware of Lazeroff’s misconduct but failed to take meaningful action to protect the boys.
Instead, the plaintiffs allege that the paper hired Lazeroff and then failed to properly supervise him, allowing him “unfettered and unsupervised access” to young children, and failing to address the sexual abuse that was occurring.
Lazeroff was arrested in 1987 after an employee at a donut shop reported his inappropriate behavior with a young paperboy. Lazeroff was later charged with disorderly conduct, with the police indicating that he had taken three paperboys to that donut shop at various times.
He was arrested again in 1988 and charged with sexual abuse in the second degree, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and avoided jail time. He later passed away in 2003.
Between October 2019 and February 2020, five other former Democrat & Chronicle paperboys filed claims against the paper indicating Lazeroff sexually abused them. All of the complaints allege that the paper hired Lazeroff after he was fired from a previous position at a Rochester bank for abusing underage schoolboys, and allege that according to employees he was eventually fired from Democrat & Chronicle for inappropriate behavior with a paper boy.
Abuse May Have Been Widespread in the Newspaper Industry
While child sexual abuse has come to light in the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America (BSA), it is only just beginning to emerge in the newspaper industry. These cases seem to indicate a more widespread problem that existed between the 1970s and 2000s.
In 2018, the Columbia Journalism Review reported on the “dangers of the paper route,” noting that according to their investigation, at least 12 child carriers were abducted, sexually abused, or killed between 1970 and 1993. Recent lawsuits, however, made possible by state laws opening limited legislative windows, show that the problem may have been much more widespread than previously believed.
New York passed the Child Victims Act in 2019, allowing victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and file civil lawsuits no matter how long ago the abuse took place. They recently extended the deadline until 2021.
“I can’t tell you as a victim of this how important and impactful…the passage of that act is to me,” one of the newspaper plaintiffs said in an interview. “Other than my family, it’s the best thing to happen to me in 30 years. It gives me an opportunity to fight back.”
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.