Today, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court set November 13, 2020, as the deadline for the filing of all sexual abuse claims against the Diocese of Harrisburg. The Diocese filed for Chapter 11 protection earlier this year to resolve all pending sex abuse claims against the Diocese with the assistance of the bankruptcy court.
Contrary to what you might think, a bankruptcy filing does not mean the Diocese is broke: it means the Diocese is asking for the Bankruptcy Court for help resolving the rest of the sexual abuse claims against it. Its assets will be allocated among all of its creditors, including an unknown number of sexual abuse claimants, known and unknown.
It is also a means by which a Catholic Diocese can continue to protect itself and its secrets, and, for that reason it is often criticized by survivor advocates and attorneys. The Diocese of Harrisburg will not likely have to publicize any priest personnel files as part of this process, for example.
The November 13 filing deadline is also referred to as a “bar date” in bankruptcy law. It is a strict, non-negotiable deadline by which all existing claims must be filed against the Diocese of Harrisburg or claimants will be forever barred from seeking relief in the future.
For survivors of sexual abuse by anyone employed by the Diocese of Harrisburg such as a priest, teacher, sacristan, or lay volunteer, this likely means that even if Pennsylvania lawmakers extend the statute of limitations and otherwise allow you to file a lawsuit, your claim will barred by the bankruptcy bar date. That makes it critically important for anyone who was victimized by a Harrisburg Diocese employee to contact competent counsel as soon as possible to discuss your options: the fact is that you probably won’t have any options after November 13.
While the exact class of persons who can file a claim in the bankruptcy is not yet defined, it is expected that those sexually assaulted by Diocese employees as an adult, as well as the estates of deceased victims, will be able to file claims.
The November 13 deadline is a strict filing deadline set by the Court and will not likely be extended by the Court for any reason. Therefore, you should contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation about your legal options as a survivor of abuse in the Harrisburg Diocese.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Harrisburg may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines have been set by the Bankruptcy Court. Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg will never be able to take against against the Diocese of Harrisburg if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your legal options today.