The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, New York filed bankruptcy earlier this month in response to the overwhelming number of sexual abuse lawsuits it currently faces, it is the twentieth diocese to do so in the last seventeen years. Rochester is the first of the states eight dioceses to declare bankruptcy but not expected to be the last. The landmark implementation of New York’s Child Victim’s Act into law this past August has led to new cases being filed in state courts by victims that were previously prevented from being heard due to the former statue of limitations on claims of child sex abuse. The most prevalent institution associated with such abuse is of course, the Catholic Church, with 400 new lawsuits being filed against the state dioceses since the law took effect.
New One-Year Legal Window Exposes Church to Millions in Potential Liabilities
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are beginning to take advantage of the one-year opportunity afforded to them under the new law by seeking damages for abuse suffered, in some cases, decades ago. Now, the dioceses of New York are forced to respond to the magnitude of liabilities they are facing from the new cases by strategizing for their financial future. The diocese of Rochester alone faces liabilities as high as $500 million with assets as low as $50 million.
What Bankruptcy Means for Victims
Federal bankruptcy judges will oversee future management of assets and disbursement of compensations to victims for the diocese in Rochester. In no way does bankruptcy ensure that the institution will be able to skirt future liability for its crimes, but it may severely hinder future cases against them by preventing access to records that may prove further wrongdoing. It may also severely hinder the time in which a victim receives compensation by forcing them into a queue with the other creditors of the diocese. If you or a loved one has suffered abuse at the hands of the institution of the Catholic Church, time is of the essence to seek justice. Attorney Paul Mones has represented victims of Catholic clergy abuse and victims of other institutional sexual abuse for decades.