Daughter Sues Monroe Developmental Center After Claiming She ID’d Mother’s Rapist Through DNA Test

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The Washington Post | Praveena Somasundaram | March 14, 2023

Magdalena Cruz learned as a child the tragic story of how she had been born.

Cruz’s mother, who is developmentally disabled, nonverbal and unable to take care of herself, had been staying at the Monroe Developmental Center in Rochester, N.Y., when she was raped and impregnated, according to a lawsuit. Cruz was born in August 1986.

She was raised by her grandparents and, as she grew older and started her own family, couldn’t ignore the questions she had about her mother’s time at the center. A few years ago, she set out to learn more, having conversations with family members, filing records requests, searching for paternal relatives and swabbing herself for an Ancestry.com DNA test.

“It started off as finding answers as to what happened to my mother,” Cruz, now 36, told The Washington Post. “That’s what I wanted first.”

What she found led to a lawsuit she filed this month against the New York Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which oversees care services and facilities across the state — including the center where Cruz’s mother had lived. During the years Cruz’s mother stayed there, she faced physical and sexual assaults that the center “covered up” without proper investigation, the complaint alleges.

In the lawsuit, Cruz identifies a former employee of the Monroe Developmental Center as her biological father and the man who raped her mother, citing DNA results.

Cruz filed the lawsuit against the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities on behalf of her mother, who is now living in a different facility.

The lawsuit’s allegations include negligence and sexual assault and battery, among others. Attorneys for Cruz said the case was made possible by New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which in November opened a one-year window for sexual assault victims to file lawsuits, regardless of when the abuse took place.

“It’s really revolutionary for survivors to be able to have a chance at justice that they thought was gone forever,” said Susan Crumiller, one of the attorneys representing Cruz. “This case is no different in that respect. I think these claims could’ve been brought much sooner, except that the institution covered up what happened.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities said they could not comment on pending litigation. The Monroe Developmental Center stopped its residential services in January 2013, according to the statement.

The man Cruz identified as her mother’s rapist is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit because Cruz and the legal team wanted to focused on the coverup they say allowed the abuse to continue happening, Crumiller said. The man has not been charged with any crime in connection with Cruz’s mother, and the criminal statute of limitations in New York has passed.

The whole story can be read here.

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