Stuart Copperman, whose medical license was revoked in 2000, faces more than 100 sexual abuse allegations. Credit: Newsday

A Nassau County court has ordered a former Merrick pediatrician to pay $27 million to a Suffolk County woman who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was a girl and young woman.

The judgment, issued on Monday, is the second in the past seven months against Stuart Copperman, whose medical license was revoked in 2000 in connection with what are now more than 100 sexual abuse allegations. In August, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Leonard D. Steinman awarded another woman, unidentified in court documents, $22 million.

Terri Ackerman, 62, the plaintiff in the new judgment, said Copperman repeatedly sexually abused her starting when she was 14, and possibly before. Newsday does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse without their consent. Ackerman agreed to use her name.

“He said I needed a cleaning,” she recalled. “I thought that’s what doctors do. If I went in for a sore throat, he said I needed a cleaning.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A Nassau County court Monday ordered former Merrick pediatrician Stuart Copperman to pay $27 million to a Suffolk County woman who accused him of sexually abusing her.

  • Terri Ackerman, 62, said she knows she likely won’t receive much if any of the money, but, she said, “I feel validated that it’s not just me saying that he did these terrible things to me.”

  • Ackerman’s civil suit is one of 105 filed against Copperman under the Child Victims Act. Ackerman’s is the second to yield a large judgment. Another women received a $22 million award in August.

Ackerman said she was Copperman’s patient from age 3 through age 25.

Ackerman said she realizes she likely won’t receive much — if any — of her award. Copperman was the sole defendant. Last year, Steinman dismissed several health systems and facilities, as well as another doctor and a school district, from the 105 lawsuits.

But, she said, with the judgment, “I feel validated that it’s not just me saying that he did these terrible things to me.”

Copperman, who according to court documents was born in 1935 and now lives in Florida, said in a brief telephone interview Tuesday: “I can’t possibly make any comment on it. It's a very tough time for me.” In the past, he has denied he did anything wrong and argued that the physical contact with the girls was part of his examinations of them.

Asked why he has not contested the civil suits against him, Copperman said “legal advice,” but declined to say who his lawyer is. A current lawyer is not listed in court documents. Joe Tacopina, a Manhattan lawyer who previously represented Copperman, did not return calls.

William Bodkin, whom Steinman appointed as a “special referee” in the case, awarded Ackerman $22 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Copperman did not participate in any of the electronically conducted court hearings for Ackerman, the other woman who won a judgment, or 103 other women who filed civil suits against Copperman, said Michael Della, of the Ronkonkoma firm Gruenberg Kelly Della, who represents the 105 women along with Kristen Gibbons Feden, from Philadelphia-based Anapol Weiss.

“Because he failed to show, a default judgment was lodged against him in all of the cases,” said Gibbons Feden.

Steinman, Bodkin and another special referee also are handling the remaining 103 cases and will determine damages for those sexual abuse accusers, Della said.

Gibbons Feden said the 105 lawsuits “likely represent only a fraction of the total number of victims.”

No criminal charges have been filed against Copperman. The women filed their civil suits under the Child Victims Act, which allowed people abused sexually as children years ago to file suits through August 2021.

Bodkin, the special referee, wrote in the judgment that “the psychological scars from the abuse suffered by Plaintiff are profound and permanent.”

Ackerman said she trusted Copperman because “in the 1960s, doctors were next to God,” and Copperman was her mother's friend.

Ackerman didn’t even realize Copperman had done anything wrong until about 2000, when other women’s accusations against Copperman gained widespread media attention.

“All of a sudden I realized I was sexually abused and I wasn’t the only one,” she said.

The betrayal of the trust she had in him affects her to this day, Ackerman said.

She has flashbacks of her abuse, and, she said, “any time I see a man, which obviously happens a lot, my mind automatically goes to ‘I wonder if he’s sexually abusing anybody.’ It’s a terrible thought to have to keep unthinking.”

Ackerman retired from her kindergarten and prekindergarten teaching job early, in June 2023, in part because of the difficulty of seeing fathers and other male relatives picking up children from school and pondering whether they were abusing the kids, she said.

Della and Gibbons Feden said they will fight to get whatever money they can from Copperman. Gibbons Feden said they are determining how much money and how many assets he has.

But Gibbons Feden said none of the 105 women sued because of the money.

“They did it because they want to be heard,” she said.

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME