Major US Diocese files for bankruptcy after 200 sexual abuse lawsuits

The Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island cannot afford to litigate so many cases, Bishop John Oliver Barres said in a video posted on Dioces’ website.

He said its finances had been exhausted since 2017 as part of an independent reconsideration and indemnity program to compensate around 320 survivors of pastoral sexual abuse.

“What became clear was that the diocese was not going to be able to continue its spiritual, charitable, and educational missions if it were to continue the increasing heavy burden of expenses for lawsuits involving these matters,” Barres said. Video, adding that the COVID-19 epidemic added to the “severe” financial burden.

Chapter 11 litigation between the Buffalo Diocese for the Protection of Bankruptcy

Barres said the ministry of the diocese will continue, and that the filing will not affect employee salaries or benefit programs. Parishes and schools are separate legal entities and are expected to operate normally.

According to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in Apostolate, the Rockville Center is the eighth-largest diocese in the country, with more than 1.4 million Catholics. By filing it is the largest US diocese ever to be declared bankrupt.

The creation of a one-year window in New York in early 2019, where victims of child sexual abuse of any age can pursue their cases, followed by a wave of lawsuits. The Child Victim Act has also increased the maximum reporting age from 23 to 28 child sexual abuse in criminal cases and from 55 in civil cases.
The Catholic diocese of buffalo filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection in February was also meant to resolve lawsuits brought under the new law, citing its “primary purpose”. Buffalo Diocese cited about 250 sexual misconduct lawsuits in its bankruptcy petition, adding that “it asserts that more than 400 individuals can assert claims of abuse.”
The second largest diocese in the nation, New York’s Archdiocy, caught fire in 2019 when it identified 120 priests or sisters who accused a child of sexual abuse or child pornography.

“We will work diligently to maintain open communication with all survivors, creditors and ministries while we work toward our goal of a settlement and a restructuring plan that includes a comprehensive resolution for those victims , “Said Barres.


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