Catholic Diocese of Rochester files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection

2 hours ago

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The Catholic Diocese of Rochester has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The paperwork was filed Thursday morning in the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.

According to Spectrum News, in the filing, the diocese claims to have between 200 and 999 creditors, and estimates its assets to be between $50 million and $100 million, with liabilities in excess of $100 million.

In the written action to petition, the diocese’s attorneys say the filing is due to “liabilities arising or asserted in connection with the New York Child Victims Act, the impact of such liabilities on the continuation of the mission of the diocese and the strategic alternatives available to the diocese.”

Hundreds of childhood sexual abuse survivors filed lawsuits in New York courts last month on the first day of a one-year window of opportunity for victims to seek civil action against their abusers. 

Attorney Jeff Anderson of  Jeff Anderson & Associates filed many of the lawsuits against the  Rochester Diocese. He says he’s been in this situation before.

“We have in twelve different cases of reorganization represented dozens, if not hundreds, of survivors in these processes. So we know how to make it work, we know how to help them help themselves, and help protect other kids.”

Some other law firms representing alleged victims are weighing in on the Rochester Diocese's bankruptcy filing as well.

“These bankruptcy proceedings will not deter us or any of the survivors we represent from bringing the Diocese of Rochester to justice,” said James Marsh of the New York-based Marsh Law Firm.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian released a statement saying that, "The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the Diocese of Rochester will not prevent victims from pursuing their rights through the bankruptcy proceeding against the Diocese of Rochester to obtain information about sexual abusers and their complicit supervisors, against relevant parish corporate entities who have not filed for bankruptcy protection and from obtaining information about assets and insurance coverage."

Rochester has become the first of New York state's eight dioceses to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of financial fallout from the church's decades-long sex abuse scandal.  

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.