$600 Million Diocese Seeks Refuge of Bankruptcy in Effort to Avoid Accountability
(Albany, New York) – Today, the Diocese of Albany announced its decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Roman Catholic archdioceses and dioceses nationwide have sought bankruptcy protection to avoid transparency and shield assets from survivors who were sexually abused as children by clergy and other agents of Catholic institutions. After waging a ruthless battle in court against the survivors since August 2019 when cases began to be filed under the Child Victims Act (CVA)—including filing a motion in November 2022 to halt the survivors’ trials—the Diocese of Albany, too, made the spineless decision to retreat to bankruptcy protection.
The Diocese of Albany and its Bishop have over $600 million under their control. It is abundantly clear that the Diocese is exploiting bankruptcy as a legal tactic when one considers the publicly reported assets of the Diocese and its affiliates controlled by the Bishop:
- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York corporation publicly reported total assets of $44,116,258 in 2021;
- The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, Inc. corporation publicly reported total assets of $48,270,443 in 2021;
- The 126 parishes and missions of the Diocese of Albany owned a total of 489 parcels of land with a combined total market value of $403,690,861 as of December 2022;
- Other Catholic entities within the counties comprising the Diocese of Albany, including Catholic Charities and Catholic schools, owned a total of 29 parcels of land with a combined total market value of $118,669,872 as of December 2022.
The Diocese’s tremendous wealth belies its claim of poverty. “We urge everyone to see the Diocese’s strategy for what it is: chicanery designed to perpetuate a $600 million corporation’s pattern of decadence, deception, and denial,” said attorney Jeff Anderson.
With the Diocese of Albany’s filing today, over half of New York’s eight Catholic dioceses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – Diocese of Buffalo (02.28.20), Diocese of Rochester (09.12.19), Diocese of Rockville Centre (10.1.2020), and the Diocese of Syracuse (06.19.20). Faced with thousands of lawsuits filed under the New York Child Victims Act, Catholic institutions are turning to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to bypass the civil litigation process and avoid accountability for the inexcusable actions committed by their predator priests and agents.
“The Diocese of Albany’s decision to declare bankruptcy is another calculated self-effacement in a long history of cowardice. Our clients’ losses are irredeemable—emotionally, spiritually. So many survivors have spent years, sometimes decades, in isolation, with the harm done unto them. Not only do they deserve the opportunity to see that burden in its rightful place, they deserve to have their strength and resilience known, too,” said attorney Cynthia LaFave. “The Diocese’s role in shrouding—perpetuating—abuse, has always taken agency from survivors. Here again, the Diocese is attempting to silence and suppress the very people they purport to protect.”
“The predictable, but disappointing, decision of the Diocese of Albany to file for bankruptcy is an affront to the brave men and women who have come forward to expose the Diocese’s dangerous history. We will continue to vigorously advocate for survivors in the bankruptcy process,” added attorney Taylor Stippel.
Attorneys from the law office of LaFave, Wein, & Frament, and Jeff Anderson & Associates represent over 190 survivors who bravely filed lawsuits under the CVA against the Diocese of Albany.