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Judge orders accused child molester to pay victims $1.4 million

Judge orders accused child molester to pay victims $1.4 million

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A State Supreme Court judge in Erie County has ordered a former nurse at a children’s psychiatric center to pay more than $1.4 million in damages for molesting three boys in the 1980s at the state facility in West Seneca.

The default judgments last month against defendant Marshall Krzos brought to an end three Child Victims Act lawsuits.

They are among the first of more than 1,200 Child Victims Act cases filed in Erie County since 2019 to reach a conclusion.

Krzos, 81, of Angola, was convicted in 1985 of two felony counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse and sentenced to five years of probation.

He was among seven staff members at the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca identified in a state investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children at the facility in the 1980s.

Krzos never responded in State Supreme Court to the abuse allegations in the Child Victims Act lawsuits.

The Buffalo News was unable to contact Krzos by telephone or at his home on Thursday.

Justice Mark J. Grisanti said in separate rulings in June that he found the plaintiffs credible based on testimony and other records presented in court. The monetary judgments were ordered in August.

Grisanti awarded one of the plaintiffs, a 49-year-old Town of Tonawanda man, $968,354 in compensatory and punitive damages, past and future lost wages and Social Security benefits, interest and attorney fees.

The man said Krzos repeatedly fondled him in 1984 when he was 12.

“The defendant committed vile acts and the records show the psychological suffering during that six-month time period and beyond, to an extent,” Grisanti said in his ruling.

In separate decisions, Grisanti also awarded a Chautauqua County man $261,345 and an Erie County man $182,786. Both men alleged that Krzos molested them at the psychiatric center in the early 1980s.

It isn't likely the plaintiffs will get any money from Krzos, said their attorney Daniel J. Chiacchia.

But the judge’s rulings provided some relief for clients, he said.

Chiacchia said Krzos “got kind of a slap on the wrist” for his crimes when he was prosecuted in 1985.

“It was different times back then. I’m not criticizing anybody for that,” he said. “Knowing that, for some of these victims, the civil justice is the only justice they’re going to get. So that coming to a conclusion gives them a sense of closure.”

Chiacchia also filed four Child Victims Act cases on behalf of clients alleging abuse by Krzos in the Court of Claims, with the State of New York as the defendant. The state Office of Mental Health operates the children’s psychiatric center in West Seneca.

Discovery is nearly complete in two of those cases, with trial dates likely to be scheduled within the next several weeks, said Chiacchia.

Chiacchia represents a fourth plaintiff who sued Krzos in Erie County State Supreme Court, but that lawsuit was filed this past June and hasn’t progressed as far as the others, which were filed in 2019 and 2020.

In addition to Chiacchia’s cases, Krzos is accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in 1972, in a lawsuit filed in June by attorney Anne Joynt.

Krzos has not answered the latest lawsuits against him.

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Reporter

My byline has run in the Ithaca Journal, USA Today, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and the New York Times. I have been a staff reporter at The Buffalo News since 2002 and currently am part of the watchdog team.

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