Ex-paperboys sue Gannett and two of its newspapers over claims of sexual abuse

Photo (cc) 2008 by Thomas Belknap

A former paperboy for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York, is suing the paper and its corporate owner, Gannett, over sexual abuse he says that he suffered at the hands of a manager back when he was just 11 and 12 years old. Mariya Manzhos has the story at Poynter Online.

The plaintiff, Rick Bates, who’s now 50, says that the company failed to protect him from circulation director Jack Lazeroff and that it acted negligently by hiring him despite previous allegations against him at another job. Lazeroff died in 2003. Manzhos writes that Gannett

is facing lawsuits filed by 11 former paperboys who have accused employees of Gannett-owned newspapers of sexually abusing them on the job in the 1970s and 1980s. [The other paper is the Arizona Republic.]

Nine of the former paperboys filed complaints between 2019 and 2021 against Gannett’s D&C under … a New York law that extended the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault, enabling them to file criminal charges against their abusers during a two-year lookback window.

Manzhos describes a culture in which newspaper executives at first attempted to cover up and delay but then published stories that were important to Bates’ ability to advance his case.

She quotes James Marsh, a lawyer for eight of the former paperboys, as saying, “It really was as a result of the journalism that we have so much corollary evidence. We almost never have the quotes, the sources and people that become manifest in our complaints.”

Become a member of Media Nation for just $5 a month.