Clergy Abuse Survivors in Diocese of Rochester Bankruptcy Case Ask to Go to Trial

 “The bishop has suppressed the truth for far too long already,” say survivors’ attorneys, following months of halting mediations.

(Rochester, NY) – Today, attorneys from the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Steve Boyd PC filed motions seeking the bankruptcy court’s permission to remove five cases from the Diocese of Rochester’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to prepare the cases for trial. The motions for relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay, which went into effect when the Diocese initially filed for bankruptcy in 2019, will be joined by the Committee of Unsecured Creditors and filed with the motions of additional survivors. This approach is in response to the delay tactics of the Diocese and its insurers, halting survivors’ opportunity for justice.

“It’s time to get the survivors’ cases and stories to the people who can decide: the jury,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who in partnership with Steve Boyd represents almost 170 survivors in the Diocese of Rochester bankruptcy case. “The Diocese and bishop have held the survivors back for too long . . . it is long overdue for these survivors’ stories to be heard.”

Out of the approximately 475 claims filed in the Diocese of Rochester bankruptcy case, survivors are seeking permission from the court to allow approximately 20 cases to proceed towards trial in New York state court. It is unusual for a diocese to face these types of motions in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Historically, Catholic dioceses have used Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a shield to stop litigation and prevent jury trials, allowing the institution to continue business uninterrupted while maintaining its secrets, hiding assets, and silencing survivors.

On September 12, 2019, the Diocese of Rochester was the first Catholic diocese in New York to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being named as a defendant in dozens of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed under the New York Child Victims Act. Chapter 11 bankruptcy often prevents survivors from pursuing legal action, exposing predators, and holding the Diocese accountable.

“We want to assure the survivors and their family members who have been harmed for so long and have brought claims against the Diocese of Rochester that this is not the end,” said Boyd. “Bankruptcy will not deter the survivors from seeking accountability, and we stand ready for battle at their side.”

While the Diocese of Rochester’s bankruptcy filing imposed an artificial deadline that cut short the New York Child Victims Act for those abused by Rochester clergy, survivors across New York still have until the end of the Child Victims Act in August 13, 2021, to file a civil lawsuit related to their abuse.