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Four more paperboys sue Democrat & Chronicle, claiming sexual abuse

CITY Newspaper file photo

Four more former Democrat & Chronicle paperboys have sued the newspaper, alleging they were sexually abused by their supervisor while on the job in the 1980s.

Their complaint, filed in state Supreme Court on Wednesday, named Jack Lazeroff, a late circulation department employee who oversaw newspaper deliverers at the time, as the abuser.

Lazeroff, who died in 2003 at the age of 74, has been identified as a suspected molester in previous news accounts and was named in a separate lawsuit brought against the newspaper last year by another former paperboy, Rick Bates, who is now 48. 

The latest lawsuit, which was filed under the Child Victims Act, a state law that opened a temporary window for old child sexual abuse claims to be litigated, was not unexpected.

Indeed, CITY and WXXI News published stories in November detailing allegations of abuse by Lazeroff made by three of the four plaintiffs in the newest case -- Francis Goodsell, Randy Penberg, and Paul Tracy.

The men acknowledged at the time that they were working with the lawyer handling Bates’ case and who filed the lawsuit on their behalf, James Marsh.

Their stories of Lazeroff using decoys and misdirection to grope them or invite them to fondle him bore striking similarities. Some told of Lazeroff approaching them on their paper routes under the guise of wanting to help them finish early or, in the winter, to stay warm.

Many of those details appear in the complaint, as do accounts provided to CITY by colleagues of Lazeroff’s at his previous employer, First Federal Savings and Loan, where Lazeroff had been a vice president before making a mid-life career change to overseeing paperboys.

One of those former colleagues said that Lazeroff was seen on multiple occasions fondling young men in his office who were seeking loans. The company’s former human resources manager said that Lazeroff was fired after young men employed at the bank complained that Lazeroff had fondled them at work.

In addition to alleging abuse, the complaint accuses the newspaper of being negligent in hiring and supervising Lazeroff.

Lazeroff was arrested twice in the 1980s in connection with sexually abusing boys.

The latest lawsuit was first reported by the Democrat & Chronicle.

David Andreatta is CITY’s editor. He can be reached at