Earlier today, the Diocese of Syracuse in New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Citing the increasing cost of clergy sex abuse lawsuits and the budget challenges of the coronavirus shutdown of church services, the Diocese of Syracuse joined an increasing number of dioceses seeking financial protection under Chapter 11, including the neighboring dioceses in Rochester and Buffalo.
Bishop Douglas Lucia said bankruptcy would give the church a chance to reorganize and continue operating while addressing the number of sexual abuse claims made against its priests. He admitted the church cannot afford the high cost of litigation of the increasing number of clergy sex abuse claims.
It is a common misconception that a Chapter 11 filing means an entity, like the Diocese of Syracuse, has run out of money, leaving sexual abuse claimants without any recourse. But that is not true. The claim is simply decided in an alternative process run by the federal bankruptcy court, rather than by a jury trial in state court. The amounts paid to survivors in a bankruptcy filing are often much less than in a traditional court case, however.
However, the Syracuse Diocese bankruptcy filing is not without its critic, and rightfully so. Horowitz Law represents survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Diocese of Syracuse. Attorney Adam Horowitz said, “Bankruptcy is the latest ploy by the Catholic Church to reduce its legal exposure for covering up clergy sexual abuse nationwide. In a bankruptcy proceeding the Church can also conceal evidence of its neglect in the handling of sexually abusive priests.”
Another advantage to the Diocese is the right to be free of additional sexual abuse litigation indefinitely once the case closes. Once a claims filing deadline has been set by the court, that will be the very last chance most survivors of clergy sexual abuse and exploitation will ever have to get some measure of accountability for what happened to them. After that date passes, the Diocese will not be subject to liability for any additional claims that arose before the bankruptcy filing, even if other laws would otherwise a lawsuit to be filed, like a change in the statute of limitations. So it is critically important that you not delay in contacting us today.
Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations, including Chapter 11 bankruptcy claims. If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member or employee of the Diocese of Syracuse, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.