After filing a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court on Jan. 30, a Burlington woman held a press conference on Feb. 1, speaking out against her uncle, her between 1968 and 1977.
Rosanne Sliney, 48, says her uncle, Domenic Previte Jr., of Waltham, sexually assaulted and raped her hundreds of times, starting when she was five.
The lawsuit details the alleged abuse, which Sliney says continued until 1977, when she was 14. Sliney, who grew up in Waltham, also claimed in the lawsuit that Previte forced her to have sex with other men.
“Domenic, you took away my childhood, my adolescence. I have struggled my whole life,”
Sliney is asking for an undisclosed amount of financial compensation for her pain and suffering, as well as attorney’s fees.
The alleged abuse caused Sliney severe mental distress, she said, which resulted in multiple hospital stays starting when she was 24.
Previte, who could not be reached for comment following the press conference, owned a Cambridge car wash where some of the abuse is alleged to have occurred, according to Sliney’s attorney, Carmen Durso.
Other incidents also occurred at the former Maverick nightclub in North Reading in the 1970s, at Previte’s Waltham home (a different address then where he lives now) and the Showcase Cinemas in Woburn, according to the lawsuit.
Sliney said Wednesday she was speaking out to help inspire other victims of sexual abuse to come forward, and to call on state lawmakers to eliminate a statute of limitations on alleged victims reporting abuse and filing criminal charges and civil lawsuits. Sliney also called for lawmakers to eliminate the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit.
“There should be no time limit, we should be able to obtain justice in our own time and out our own pace,” Sliney said, noting that alleged victims can be reluctant to file a lawsuit or charges at first because they are focused on recovery.
Durso said that in this case, the statute of limitations for criminal charges has expired, thus preventing Sliney from filing charges against Previte. However, the law allows for filing of this particular civil lawsuit because it states that a lawsuit can be filed up to three years from the point at which a victim understands they have been abused, according to Durso. In this case, Sliney's recent recollections of abuse, Durso said, allows the suit to be filed. Durso, however, acknowledged, the suit would be a "difficult."
Sliney Recalls Abuse:
Rosanne Sliney, now 48 years old and living in Burlington, started recalling the abuse when she was in her early 20s, she said. She said she never told anybody about it during the time in which it occurred, between ages 5 and 14.
A former teacher and coach, Sliney said Wednesday she started recalling more memories of abuse in which she was forced to have sex with other men at the former Maverick nightclub at the intersection of Main and Park streets in North Reading. She was 13 or 14 years old at the time, she said.
“They were pretty horrific and horrible,” Sliney said of the recent memories.
A Family's Reaction:
The alleged abuse took a severe toll on the family and Sliney said she no longer speaks with her aunts. Sliney said she, her brother and sister decided she should inform her aunts of the abuse—but received an unexpected response.
“The first thing they said was, 'We knew,'” Sliney said. “They just didn’t want to believe it."
However, her aunts pledged to support Sliney and suggested she confront Previte.
“Over time, it became clear to me that this family’s main concern was to keep me quiet and not support me,” Sliney said.
Sliney had a stern message for anybody involved in covering up the alleged abuse.
“To all the adults involved, shame on you for covering this up. Today, I can say that I am strong enough to speak out. I have suffered enough and I’m not hiding anymore,” she said.