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Facing more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits, Diocese of Syracuse files for bankruptcy

The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after dealing with financial strain while facing more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act.

Posted: Jun 19, 2020 1:03 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2020 6:30 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after dealing with financial strain while facing more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act.

This comes one day after the announcement of 32 new claims against the diocese regarding alleged abuse by various priests from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The Most Rev. Douglas J. Lucia authorized the bankruptcy filing on Friday, June 19, saying reorganizing under Chapter 11 is the best solution for all involved. 

“Without a reorganization, the diocese and claimants will face a slow, unpredictable and costly process that would require years of court involvement. Such a protracted process would delay justice for the victims and only prolong their pain and suffering,” said Lucia. “The challenge this situation presents to our diocese is simply that one jury award could so diminish our assets that we would have little or nothing with which to resolve the other claims or carry on the important ministries of the diocese.” 

The diocese has developed a reorganization plan, and will create a victims fund using money from the diocese and insurance carriers. Lucia says the diocese is working with insurance companies to determine the extent of coverage. 

“It is my hope that during this process of reorganization and following its completion, we will continue to pray for the healing of those who had been harmed during this very dark chapter of the Church”, stated Bishop Lucia.  “As your Bishop, I must again, apologize for these heinous acts and ask you all to join me in our diocesan commitment that these acts will never take place again.”

The parishes within the diocese, the HOPE Appeal, Catholic Charities, Catholic Schools and other associated groups are separate legal entities and are not part of the Chapter 11 filing. 

This bankruptcy will not affect Notre Dame schools, according to Board of Trustees President Vincent Gilroy.

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