Camden Diocese Becomes First New Jersey Catholic Diocese to File for Chapter 11 Protection

| Oct 2, 2020 | Catholic Church

On Thursday, October 1, the Diocese of Camden in New Jersey quietly filed a federal petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy seeking reorganization of their assets, the same day its counterpart in Rockville Centre (New York) did.  The move comes after the Diocese was hit with multiple sexual abuse lawsuits that the Diocese says it cannot afford to pay, even with insurance coverage.

The filing was announced in a letter written by Bishop Dennis Sullivan and released to the media on Thursday night.  According to the Bishop, the cost of the sexual abuse suits, combined with a loss of revenues due to COVID-19, makes it impossible to continue their business as usual.  In July, the Diocese it announced it was suspending its participation in a voluntary settlement fund established by the New Jersey Catholic Dioceses to resolve claims without the time and expense of litigation.

Last year, New Jersey lawmakers opened a 2 year “window” for survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits against the entities responsible, including the Diocese of Camden.

It is a common misconception that a Chapter 11 filing means an entity, like the Diocese of Camden, 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 a state court.  The amounts paid to survivors in a bankruptcy filing are often much less than in a traditional court case, however.

The Camden Diocese bankruptcy filing is not without its critics, and rightfully so.  Horowitz Law represents survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Diocese of Camden.  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 if you think you have a claim.

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 Camden, 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.