A New York man was sexually abused by four people in the foster-care system starting when he was a tot — and now he’s seeking justice, two new lawsuits show.
Lamont Wilder, a 47-year-old barber in The Bronx, recounted to The Post how he bounced around foster-care homes until he was 21.
During that time, he was allegedly sexually abused by two foster parents, the husband of a woman who cared for him on weekends while he was in a home for troubled kids, and by a caregiver at that home, according to two Bronx Supreme Court lawsuits he filed against various foster-care agencies.
Wilder, who is suing for unspecified damages, blames his abusers as well as the agencies, saying the attacks began at age 4, when he was so vulnerable.
“They should know who is working for them,” Wilder told The Post of the foster-care agencies. “It’s easy to manipulate a child in a situation like that.”
Wilder told The Post by phone that his biological parents were very young, had drug-addiction issues and were largely absent from his life — which is how he ended up in the foster-care system when he was just a few weeks old in 1974.
Wilder was first abused by a foster father when he was living at the man’s Bronx home, and the abuse continued repeatedly until he was moved in 1979, court papers allege.
A New York agency put Wilder in two foster homes in Minnesota, where he was sexually abused by a foster mother at the second home, court documents claim. He spent four months in a psychiatric facility in 1981 after he lit fires on two separate occasions — “a classic symptom of sexual abuse,” the suit alleges.
Then from 1982 through 1985, Wilder lived at the Astor Home for Children in Rhineback in upstate New York — run by the Catholic church — and was sexually abused by a staffer there, as well as the husband of a woman who took Wilder on the weekends, court papers allege.
Wilder’s suits — one filed last week and the other filed Monday — seek to hold responsible those who ran the foster-care programs, including New York City, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services, Inc., Evolve Adoption & Family Services — which used to be called Crossroads — the New York Archdiocese and Astor Home for Children.
Wilder claims the defendants were negligent in protecting Wilder and in vetting the people who were tasked with taking care of him.
Wilder says the abuse left lifelong emotional effects on him and he ended up living in the homeless-shelter system on and off in his life.
“I have very very serious issues trusting and making tight connections with people,” Wilder said. “I still suffer from a lot of depression from it.
“I don’t want to see other young men and women go through this because it’s crippling,” Wilder said. “I’m still affected by it, and I’m 47 years old.”
Wilder’s lawyer, Mark Shirian, said in a statement, “I applaud my client, who has courageously pursued justice by sharing his story of abuse in order to prevent this tragedy from happening to other unsuspecting children and families.
“It’s time to hold these entities accountable, and we will pursue these lawsuits with vigor in order to secure justice,” Shirian said.
Wilder claims his abuse came at foster homes in Minnesota and Astor Home for Children in Rhineback, New York.James Messerschmidt
Wilder filed suit under New York’s Child Victims’ Act, which allows alleged victims of childhood abuse to bring old claims that have fallen outside the statute of limitations. The look-back window is set to close Aug. 14.
Archdiocese rep Joseph Zwilling said in a statement: “The Archdiocese of New York takes every allegation of sexual abuse seriously, and responds with compassion and respect. However, we cannot comment on specific lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act.”
A spokesman with the city Law Department said, “We’ll review the suit when we are served.”
Astor Home, Sheltering Arms and Evolve did not return requests for comment.