WXXI AM News

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester

Apr 6, 2021

Credit James Brown / WXXI News

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse.

The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. 

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect

Attorney Jeff Anderson said more than 300 lawsuits against the diocese were filled between Aug. 14, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2020. His firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, is involved in about 40% of those. 

The window for civil lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act was expanded another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It closes on Aug. 14. 

Anderson said the claims he represents go back decades and touch many local Catholic institutions including 14 at Aquinas Institute, 11 at St. Boniface Church and school and 12 at St. John the Evangelist. His firm is seeking transparency from the diocese, in an effort to understand the pattern of its practices.

“We will require and seek a full disclosure of all the files maintained by all the bishops and all the dioceses pertaining to all the offenders,” Anderson said.

Doug Mandelaro, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, said Tuesday, “Out of respect for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court process and the claimants, the Diocese declines comment.”