Diocese of Rockville Centre files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to sex abuse lawsuits
The Diocese of Rockville Centre is filing for bankruptcy due to hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits.
The diocese says the move comes from financial pressures over payments to childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse. Diocese officials say it's left them no option but to file for Chapter 11.
The diocese says it believes its current and future liquidity will be sufficient to fund operations and ministries during the restructuring process and beyond.
A spokesman says the parishes and the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Rockville Centre are separate legal entities and therefore not included in the filing.
Operations of the parishes and schools are expected to continue as normal.
Bishop John Barres say this was not an easy decision, but it was a necessary one.
"In the year since the passage of Child Victims Act, more than 200 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse have been filed against the Diocese of Rockville Centre," says Barres. "What became clear was that the diocese was not going to be able to continue to carry out its spiritual, charitable and educational missions if it were to continue to shoulder the increasingly heavy burden of litigation expenses."
In a diocese video statement, Barres say the bankruptcy protections will ensure that all victims filing suit will have access to a similar settlement.
Among those filing suit is Massapequa Park's Harold Siering. He alleges abuse at the hands of priests at two Long Island schools. His attorney says the filing is a tactic to delay the litigation process.
"They're going to the bankruptcy court to try to reduce settlement values, and that's not going to happen," says attorney Michele Betti. "In the Diocese of San Diego, victims on average, got $1.58 million."
"One of the things that troubles me about the bankruptcy petition is the fourth motion ... they want confidentiality in the bankruptcy," says Sierling.
Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 23 others filing suit, says the bankruptcy court has been a good thing for victims elsewhere in New York.
"What usually happens is we will go to bankruptcy court through the creditor's committee and we will ask for the secret files, will ask the bishop's depositions take place for instance, and the bankruptcy court usually says, OK," says Garabedian.