Following the Lead of Buffalo & Rochester Dioceses, the Diocese of Syracuse Attempts to Keep Child Victims Act Cases from Reaching Courts
Statement from Attorneys Jeff Anderson & Cynthia LaFave
(Syracuse, NY) – The Diocese of Syracuse’s decision to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a disappointing attempt to conceal the truth about predator priests in the Diocese at the expense of sexual abuse survivors. But it is not surprising. The Diocese of Syracuse is simply following the cynical and damaging playbook of its predecessors.
More than two dozen Catholic Dioceses and Archdioceses across the country have previously filed bankruptcy to avoid facing the civil justice system, which forces transparency and accountability. This includes the recent filings of the Diocese of Buffalo and the Diocese of Rochester in New York.
“We see the Diocese’s decision to declare bankruptcy as strategic, cowardly and wholly self-serving,” said attorney Cynthia LaFave. “At the heart of these cases we find a similarly willful deceit on the Diocese’s part—persistent attempts to evade accountability and a concerted effort to conceal information. For decades the Diocese has possessed knowledge that could have prevented an untold number of horrors against children.”
Bankruptcy can limit survivors’ ability to unearth names and information regarding predator priests, expose the top officials who covered up for the sexually abusive clergy, and bring to light what these officials knew and when they knew it.
“This lack of transparency is a real threat to child safety,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “But survivors will still have the power to come forward to seek justice and healing.”
As part of the Chapter 11 process, the bankruptcy court will soon set a claims bar date, which will be the deadline for sexual abuse survivors to file a claim in bankruptcy court or risk losing their legal rights forever. “This decision is not the end for courageous survivors abused by clergy in this Diocese,” Anderson continued. “Survivors will still be able to come forward, expose the truth, help protect children, and seek healing. This will not stop survivors or us from fighting to make sure the Diocese of Syracuse is held accountable.”
Earlier this week, on behalf of numerous survivors, attorneys from Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave Wein & Frament filed 32 new sexual abuse complaints against the Diocese under the New York Child Victims Act.
“Each survivor we represent makes for one less story left untold,” said LaFave. “Ultimately, these survivors are more empowered and determined to effect change and to protect future generations than the Diocese possibly could be in [the Diocese’s] continued efforts to suppress information for the sake of their status quo.”
Jeff Anderson and Cynthia LaFave joined forces in 2019 to support survivors of child sexual abuse in Upstate New York. Anderson has worked with child sexual abuse survivors for more than 37 years. Jeff Anderson & Associates pioneered the use of civil litigation to help sexual abuse survivors hold their abusers and the institutions that protected those abusers, accountable for the abuse they suffered as children. Anderson and his firm have represented hundreds of survivors in several Catholic Diocese and Archdiocese bankruptcies, and continue to do so.