Rochester diocese files for bankruptcy amid dozens of sex abuse lawsuits

Rochester diocese named in as many as 47 lawsuits as of Thursday

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy amid dozens of sex abuse lawsuits.

WHAM-TV reports the Rochester diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday morning in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester. A petition for financial reorganization estimates the diocese’s assets as between $50 and $100 million and its financial liabilities as between $100 and $500 million.

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the Rochester diocese is the first of New York state’s eight dioceses and the 20th nationwide to seek bankruptcy protection while facing lawsuits over the Catholic Church’s decades of alleged sex abuse.

Hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed under the Child Victims Act after New York state began accepting cases once blocked by the statute of limitations last month.

According to WHAM, the Rochester diocese was named in as many as 47 lawsuits as of Thursday.

The D&C reports the diocese, based in Gates, N.Y., encompasses 12 counties and has an estimated 360,000 Catholics. For now, individual parishes, churches and schools — not all of which are part of the diocese in the Finger Lakes region — will be unaffected by the bankruptcy filing, but the Rochester newspaper says it could eventually lead to some closings.

The Child Victims Act has opened up a one-year litigation window for victims to sue over abuse that may have occurred years or even decades ago. The Roman Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, schools, hospitals and late financier Jeffrey Epstein are some of the targets in lawsuits that have been filed over the past few weeks.

A spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany issued the following statement Thursday: “We do not yet know the full financial scope of the CVA as it relates to the Diocese of Albany, and therefore, we cannot and will not make any decisions. We have nothing to announce, other than that we continue to respond in justice to survivors of abuse and urge anyone who has suffered such abuse to come forward. Regardless of what happens down the road, the mission and ministries of the Diocese of Albany will continue.”

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