On Thursday, October 1, the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the fourth Catholic Diocese in New York to do so. The move comes after the Diocese says it has more exposure in child sexual abuse lawsuits than the Diocese and its insurance companies can afford.
Bishop John Barres made the announcement by video, which comes about a month after the Diocese lost an appeal regarding New York’s Child Victims Act. The Child Victims Act suspended the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases for a limited time, meaning that those sexually abused by Rockville Centre’s priests and employees could file lawsuits against the Diocese for its role in their abuse. According to the Bishop, more than 200 lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Rockville Centre in the almost 14 months that the window has been open.
The bishop said that parishes and schools would not be affected because they are separate legal entities, which is consistent with the bankruptcies filed by the Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse Dioceses earlier this year and for similar reasons.
It is a common misconception that a Chapter 11 filing means an entity, like the Diocese of Rockville Centre, 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 Rockville Centre Diocese bankruptcy filing is not without its critics, and rightfully so. Horowitz Law represents survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. 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 Rockville Centre, 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.