More than two years ago, a group of sex abuse survivors in New York agreed to stay their lawsuit under the Child Victims Act. The Diocese of Rochester, on the other hand, indicated that it would be able to settle its claims in a bankruptcy settlement.
On Monday, a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic businesses that had not filed for bankruptcy protection. His scathing verdict beat what the judge saw as a diocese hardball tactic.
“The diocese, which portrays itself as a victim and seeks to prove abuse survivors right, predicts that the diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan if a court case is allowed against one of the Catholic reorganization,” U.S. bankruptcy judge Paul R Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. “It’s a pretty crude threat against the people who are the real victims here – the abuse survivors.”
Mitchell Garabedianthe famous child sex abuse advocate portrayed in the film headlightcelebrated the verdict on behalf of 90 of his clients who had asserted claims in those state proceedings.
“The court’s decision to deny the diocese’s request for a stay of litigation in state courts against independent Catholic businesses will allow survivors to seek justice and corroboration,” wrote Garabedian, who has read hundreds of abuse victims over the years represented clergy. “Justice and affirmation decades and decades in the making.”
Some survivors missed that opportunity permanently, the judge noted.
“During the nearly three years that this Chapter 11 case has been pending, at least three abuse survivors have died,” the ruling said. “Whether these abuse survivors had potential CVA claims against any of the non-debtor Catholic corporations is now largely academic. However, what is not academic is the fact that these abuse survivors have missed the opportunity to seek justice in court. Given the age of many abuse survivors, it is likely that more of them will be denied the opportunity to seek justice if they are barred from taking action against the independent Catholic bodies because the sands of time are working against them.”
At the heart of Judge Warren’s damning verdict is the Child Victims Act (CVA), a law passed by the New York State Legislature extending the statute of limitations. The passage of the law sparked a spate of lawsuits from alleged victims, who lawmakers say may need time to deal with the legacy of abuse.
“Abuse survivors have, in many cases, been silenced for decades,” Warren wrote. “The CVA window gave them the right to be heard. Instead, the abuse survivors agreed not to pursue their CVA claims against the independent Catholic bodies in the hope that the Chapter 11 case could offer the diocese a fair measure of justice. After nearly 3 years, abuse survivors have expressed their desire to seek redress from non-debtor Catholic corporations. In response, the diocese has requested that the court disjoin the abuse survivors while announcing its intention to seek confirmation of a Chapter 11 plan against the abuse survivor appeal. After decades of silence, this may seem ironic to abuse survivors.”
The Rochester Diocese’s attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Read the verdict below:
(Image via YouTube Screengrab)
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https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/federal-bankruptcy-judge-rejects-catholic-dioceses-bid-to-stop-state-litigation-on-child-sex-abuse-excoriates-heavy-handed-threat-to-survivors/ The Diocese of Rochester cannot stop state child sex abuse cases