WXXI AM News

Clergy abuse victims want speedier action on claims; Diocese proposes $35 million settlement

Jun 11, 2021

Credit www.dor.org

An attorney representing a number of people who have claims of sexual abuse against clergy in the Rochester Catholic Diocese is calling on Bishop Salvatore Matano and the Diocese to release secret files and also fairly settle claims of the alleged victims.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston based lawyer, is not satisfied with the current mediation process.

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the resolution of the claims in mediation. And the mediation has been playing out for months and we believe that the Diocese has been acting in bad faith in mediation just to buy time. So they allowed it to play out,” Garabedian said.

The attorney also said during a media briefing on Friday that he is worried delays will make it tougher to resolve these cases.

“Over time memories fade, documents disappear, evidence grows stale, and that’s to the benefit of the defendants. And that’s what the Diocese of Rochester is up to. They want to wear down the victims of survivors, and it’s not going to happen.” Garabedian said the individuals he’s representing want transparency and accountability so the “healing can begin.”

The Diocese of Rochester issued a statement asking the federal bankruptcy court to approve a $35 million settlement with insurance companies involved in the Diocese’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The Diocese said the proposed settlement would be “a significant step forward” to compensate survivors of sexual abuse who have filed claims in the bankruptcy case.

The Diocese said it believes the settlement, if approved, would help avoid further litigation. It said that litigation would reduce available funds available for survivors and perhaps result delay the conclusion of the process for years.

The statement from the Diocese said that, “While the funding provided under this settlement is only a portion of the eventual “Survivors Fund” to be established to settle those claims, it is a significant and substantial one.”

Garabedian contends that what he called, “The current waiting game by Bishop Matano and the Diocese is a re-victimization of clergy sexual abuse victims.”

According to the Diocese, a hearing on the bankruptcy case is scheduled for July 9.