A New York diocese filed for bankruptcy. Will others follow?

Religion News Service | 9/23/2019 | Staff
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was the first in New York to seek bankruptcy protection under the weight of new sexual misconduct lawsuits, but lawyers and church leaders say it may not be the last.

All eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses face financial pressures as a result of the state’s new Child Victims Act, which temporarily set aside the usual statute of limitations for lawsuits to give victims of childhood sexual abuse a year to pursue even decades-old claims.

Cases - Dioceses - Aug - Law - Period

More than 400 cases have been brought against the dioceses since Aug. 14, when the law’s one-year “look back” period for such suits began.

Representatives from the dioceses of Buffalo, Rockville Centre, Albany and Ogdensburg told The Associated Press they haven’t decided as they consult with legal, financial and insurance experts.

Options - Bankruptcy - Protection - Options - Darcy

“While we evaluate our options, filing for bankruptcy protection remains one of those options,” said Darcy Fargo, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Ogdensburg, which covers the rural, northernmost tip of the state.

Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone has said he is close to deciding whether to file for bankruptcy protection or litigate the nearly 140 new lawsuits his diocese is facing.

Diocese - Albany - Lawsuits - Spokeswoman - Mary

The Diocese of Albany, meanwhile, faces more than 30 lawsuits so far, but spokeswoman Mary DeTurris Poust said the diocese won’t make any decision until “the full financial scope” of the Child Victims Act is known.

The Diocese of Rochester sought bankruptcy court protection Sept. 12 because of the new wave of lawsuits, becoming the 20th Roman Catholic diocese to do so nationwide in a sexual abuse reckoning that has now stretched on for 17 years.

Bankruptcy - Proceedings - Dioceses - Lawsuits - Claims

Bankruptcy proceedings don’t immunize dioceses from lawsuits, but they put claims under the supervision of a federal bankruptcy judge and require victims to get in line with all other potential church creditors. Plaintiffs’ attorneys say...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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