On October 1st, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York became the latest and largest Roman Catholic Diocese in the nation to protect itself from sexual abuse lawsuits by filing for bankruptcy. “At this point, the bankruptcy process takes over and people will never get their day in court,” Attorney Paul Mones told the Wall Street Journal. “What the bankruptcy does is cut off the complete historical perspective of what the diocese knew and when they knew it.”
In 2007, Paul Mones and his NY co-counsel obtained an $11.45 million verdict against this same diocese on behalf of two abuse survivors, and he is now ready to help as many other survivors as possible get the compensation they deserve.
A Long History of Abuse Leads to Lawsuits
In 2007, Paul Mones and his co-counsel obtained an $11.45 million jury verdict against the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York on behalf of two victims — the largest verdict rendered to date against a Diocese in New York.
As brought out in the 2003 Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, sexual abuse of children by priests throughout parishes in the Diocese was not only rampant but the Diocese engaged in a concerted effort to cover up the problem. The Diocese not only looked the other way but actively sought to protect pedophile priests.
However, the attention brought by the 2007 lawsuit, and increasing public awareness of sexual abuse and the role the Catholic church played in covering it up led more survivors to speak up. According to NBC News, the diocese started an independent compensation program in 2017 to provide settlements for victims of past sexual abuse, and to date, it has paid out more than $62 million to approximately 350 survivors.
Thanks to the New York Child Victims Act victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese were able to sue the Diocese and its parishes. Since the passage of the Child Victims Act in 2019, over 200 lawsuits were filed against the Diocese. The financial weight of these lawsuits caused the Diocese to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York.
New York Gives Sex Abuse Survivors a Second Chance to Seek Justice
New York’s new Child Victims Act gives survivors whose claims were previously time-barred a new window of opportunity to file a lawsuit. Survivors who were previously told the abuse they endured occurred too long ago to do anything about now have until August 14, 2021, to come forward and tell their story.
However, all survivors of abuse at the Rockville Center Diocese may need to act even more quickly if they want compensation. Filing for bankruptcy means the church will be able to consolidate all of the current and potential claims against it into one huge lawsuit that is settled in bankruptcy court. It is likely that a formal claims mechanism will then be set up that forces all survivors to come forward before a certain date. That date has not been established yet, but victims who have not filed need to monitor the news closely to find out when the bar date is established.
Bankruptcy May Shorten Window for Survivors to Come Forward
Attorney Mones along with his colleagues in New York are keeping a close eye on the bankruptcy. For over 35 years, Paul has focused his practice on representing adult victims of child sexual abuse and sexually abused children. He’s not some fly-by-night operator looking to make a quick buck during this bankruptcy proceeding, but an experienced and knowledgeable advocate.
If you have questions about being sexually abused by a priest, please contact our office.