Statement of Attorney Jeff Anderson
(New York, NY) – In an article released earlier today by the Associated Press, journalists Michael Rezendes and Reese Dunklin have once again pulled back the clerical curtain to expose a new layer of deceitful, self-serving strategies practiced by Roman Catholic Bishops—systemic financial abuse conducted under the radar throughout the United States.
The AP’s findings are consistent with the efforts of our firm and of survivors to expose these secret, high-sophisticated financial maneuvers, including bishops reallocating diocesan assets into shielded trusts and corporations to protect their wealth from clergy abuse survivors seeking restitution for the incomprehensible harm they suffered as children. Once the assets are safe, the bishops declare insolvency and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to further limit their exposure to clergy abuse lawsuits and limit survivors’ opportunities to bring legal claims. It’s a contemptible strategy that has been perfected through years of refinement.
For decades, our firm has witnessed and combatted these practices, and with new legislation opening courthouse doors to clergy abuse survivors across the country, this exposé couldn’t be more timely. We have seen these deceptive practices and legal maneuvers used across the country. The Catholic Bishops in Minnesota followed this playbook, as did Cardinal Dolan when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee. Now, the Catholic Bishops across New York are employing the same playbook in the Diocese of Rochester (09.12.19), Diocese of Buffalo (02.28.20), the Diocese of Syracuse (06.19.20) and the Diocese of Rockville Centre (10.1.20.). While the number of bishops that utilize bankruptcy as a shield continues to increase, the maneuvers and motivations remain the same.
This financial chicanery is well known to clergy abuse survivors and their advocates. It is our hope that this article will be the first of many calls for greater scrutiny in how the Catholic bishops conduct business. It’s time to hold the bishops and the Catholic hierarchy accountable for this tremendous insult to incomparable injury.