Diocese of Rochester files for bankruptcy amid mounting sex abuse lawsuits

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This follows a flurry of lawsuits against the organization, mostly sexual assault cases, that were filed following the enactment of the Child Victims Act.

The bankruptcy will not affect local parishes and parishioners as they are legally independent of the the diocese under the New York State Religious Corporation Law, according to Bishop Salvatore Matano. No parishes were named or associated with the bankruptcy filing.

The Child Victims Act, which went into effect on August 14, extended the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases for one year.

“We believe this is the only way we can provide just compensation for all who suffered the egregious sin of sexual abuse,” Matano said.

Rochester’s Diocese is the first to file bankruptcy in our state, and the 20th to do so in the nation.

“This is a very difficult and painful decision,” Matano said.

The Diocese of Rochester represents 86 parishes in 12 counties.

The filing would help the diocese to reorganize its finances, marshal funds to pay compensation to accusers and create a plan for the diocese to continue operating.

The petition estimates the diocese’s assets as between $50 and $100 million and its financial liabilities as between $100 and $500 million.

“It’s very easy to have faith in the best of times. It’s very difficult to have faith in times as challenging as these,” Matano said.

In total 58 cases have been filed in Monroe County against the Rochester Diocese after the CVA went into effect. On the first day alone there were 37 cases filed, 36 of which against the diocese.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows an organization to function while it works to pay its debts. According to US Courts:

This chapter of the Bankruptcy Code generally provides for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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