Stuart M. Copperman, the former Long Island serial pedophile-pediatrician alleged to have sexually abused scores of young girls over decades, today was sued in New York State Supreme Court by 77 of his former patient-survivors.
The plaintiffs are jointly represented by the law firms Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky (SMB), and Gruenberg Kelly Della (GKD). The starkly similar complaints, collectively spanning nearly 6,000 pages, detail each survivor’s claims of assault and battery and child abuse. Despite numerous investigations, and the 2001 revocation of his medical license, Copperman, who is believed to maintain residences on Long Island and in southern Florida, has never been criminally charged.
The complaints (Plaintiff-survivors v. Stuart M. Copperman, Stuart M. Copperman, MD., et al. Index Nos. 4000096/21, 400097/2021 and 75 others) filed under New York’s 2019 Child Victim’s Act (CVA), assert that Copperman sexually abused his first patient, a 13-year-old, in 1961 – during his internship and residency – and continued to sexually abuse his minor female patients unchecked, despite the complaints that were reported against him. New York state authorities revoked his license after at least six patients testified under oath that he sexually molested them. Six of Copperman’s survivors, all named plaintiffs in the litigation, issued the following statements after their complaints were filed here in New York Supreme Court, Queens County.
Jeanna Limmer-Salgado, who filed a sexual abuse complaint against Copperman with criminal authorities and the state medical board in 1985: “It has taken all these decades for our voices to finally be heard. Meanwhile, Copperman had a long and prosperous career and got away with violating me and countless other little girls and young women. We are thankful that finally, thanks to the state’s Child Victims Act (CVA), which we fought hard for along with so many other survivors, we can finally have our day in court.”
Dina Ribaudo: “He was a horrible predator in a white coat, with a stethoscope around his neck, who, if I had a paper cut, would sexually assault me and call it medically necessary. The mere thought of him triggers emotional trauma and fear for the safety of my young daughter. Still, I am proud to join the other survivors in seeking justice and look forward to testifying at a jury trial.”
Francine Iacona: “Looking back, he was always charming to my mother, but he terrified me and he robbed me of my youth. I can never recover what was lost, but I can and will share my story under oath in hopes that what we are doing will result in justice and permanent change to protect the young and the innocent.”
Debra Zuckerwise: “My life has been a horror; an endless nightmare because of Copperman,” said Debra Zuckerwise. “I cry every time I think about it. I was only a little girl and, I’m sad to say, many of our own mothers thought we were telling a story. I finally have some hope that the whole truth will be told in court and he’ll be held to account.”
Lynn Barnett Seigerman: “I want him to have to experience the shame that he made me feel. I want him to have to face us in court and not be able to manipulate us. Above all, I want justice.”
Dana Marcus: “Copperman told me, when I was a pre-teen, that I was ‘dirty down there,’ but not to worry because he could ‘clean’ me and wouldn’t tell my mother. At the time, I felt ashamed, and it hurt, but I was also thankful for his ‘keeping it our secret’ because I was so embarrassed. If you feel queasy hearing that, imagine how I felt as an adult realizing I had been ‘groomed’ by a pedophile.”
Their lead attorney, Kristen Gibbons Feden, who heads the Survivors of Sexual Abuse unit at SMB, was a former prosecutor on the team that convicted sexual predator Bill Cosby. Ms. Feden, whose legal career has focused on fighting for the rights of survivors of crime, particularly of a sexual nature, explained that the “brave survivors, like our 77 Plaintiffs, and the Child Victim’s Survival Act has afforded the opportunity for survivors to seek justice and to hold predators, like Copperman, and their enablers accountable in a court of law, and, force them to make the necessary changes to prevent this type of harm from ever happening again.”
“Copperman’s repulsive behavior – which resulted to date in only the loss of his medical license – was heinous by any standard, but especially for a pediatrician”, Ms. Feden continued, adding that according to the complaints, he repeatedly sexually abused and exploited young girls in his exam room, violating and manipulating these young girls’ private parts and often penetrating them. “Copperman would sexually abuse his pediatric patients under the guise of conducting a medically necessary ‘cleaning’ procedure, and engage in this sexually exploitative behavior against these children even if they were seeking treatment of a minor cold, sore throat, or a hand injury.” Ms. Feden stated.
New York born-and-raised trial attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of SMB, said, “These survivors, under New York’s 2019 CVA, can finally seek justice years after they were brutalized and traumatized.” Mr. Mongeluzzi added, “For nearly 40 years he preyed upon his prepubescent and teenage patients, and now it is time for him to be held accountable for his despicable actions.” Attorney Mongeluzzi said, “This is particularly crucial as we slowly emerge from the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, because we also reflect on the unprecedented attention that has been focused on America’s healthcare workers – including those in and around New York – deservedly called ‘heroes’. Let’s be clear, their heroics are in stark contrast and magnify the cowardly and contemptible misconduct of Mr. Copperman.”
Andrew R. Duffy, of Philadelphia-based SMB, and part of the legal team, stated, “Copperman physically and emotionally had his way with his underage and vulnerable patients. For decades Copperman avoided disciplinary action by his profession along with criminal prosecution despite clearly engaging in what could only be considered criminal misconduct.”
Michael Della, of GKD, and co-counsel on the legal team, said the complaint contains demands for presently unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. “The amount of damages will be determined by the jury, but there is no question they will be substantial given the tremendous amount of pain and suffering inflicted on these women since they were young children, and who are now courageously fighting for justice.”
Jessica E. Vertullo, also of Long Island-based GKD, added, “Dr. Copperman was publicly revered by his profession on Long Island; a former U.S. Army doctor, top official of the Nassau County medical society, public health advisor to elected officials, a talk-show host focusing on children’s health. But he had a very dark and savage side that was ignored or concealed for decades, and which now, for the sake of the survivors and Long Islanders past, present and future, must be fully revealed and addressed through the courts and these lawsuits.”
- Dina Ribaudo – Index No. 400095/2021
- Lynn Barnett Seigerman – Index No. 400096/2021
- Francine Iacona – Index No. 400097/2021
- Jeanna Limmer-Salgado – Index No. 400099/2021
- Dana Marcus – Index No. – 400098/2021
- Debra Zuckerwise – Index No. – 400100/2021
- Debbi Geller Rhodes – Index No. 400164/2021
NOTE: Members of the Copperman Survivors Legal Team will be available to discuss the complaint filing. All plaintiff interview requests will be handled through counsel. Anyone with information regarding Dr. Copperman’s misconduct can confidentially contact a legal team member at email@example.com. Numerous resources are available to assist sexual assault survivors. These include the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). To speak confidentially to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider call 800-656-HOPE or visit https://hotline.rainn.org/online. Other resources include: Victims of Stuart Copperman, and Long Island Against Abuse
Kristen Gibbons Feden / firstname.lastname@example.org / 215-575-2964
Jessica E. Vertullo / email@example.com / 631-533-0095
Andrew R. Duffy / firstname.lastname@example.org / 609-320-4919
Michael Della/ email@example.com / 631-796-3995
Steph Rosenfeld / firstname.lastname@example.org / 215-514-4101