Long Island, Rockville Center Diocese bankruptcy is possible because of financial pressures from payments to childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse, citing 200 sex abuse lawsuits filed under the state’s Child Victims Act.
Now, the Diocese of Rockville Centre is filing for bankruptcy protection to deal with legal expenses from these sexual abuse lawsuits, saying it needs Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to restructure and to help facilitate settlements to many of sexual abuse victims who filed sexual misconduct suits under the state’s Child Victims Act.
The diocese emphasized that the church and schools are separate legal entities and are not involved in the Chapter 11 filing and expect most operations “will continue without interruption.”
Rockville Center Diocese needs bankruptcy protection
“We believe that this process offers the only way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for everyone involved, including abuse survivors whose compensation settlements will be resolved by the courts,” Bishop Barres claimed in a video statement.
“The good work of our parishes and schools are expected to continue as normal,” Bishop John Barres added. “But it is also the case that after chapter 11, the diocese will have fewer financial resources to help struggling schools and parishes.”
The Long Island diocese is one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the US and home to about 1.4 million Catholics, is the latest diocese or religious society in the country to file for bankruptcy to address the fallout from the continuing clergy sex abuse scandal started since 2002.
Rockville center diocese scandal
In 2019, the diocese filed a legal challenge claiming that the Child Victims Act that released laws of limitations on molestation cases violates the New York state constitution.
Also in 2018, the diocese agreed to pay claims to above 200 sex abuse victims, before the Child Victim Act was passed and even more lawsuits were filed.
Rockville Centre is not the first to seek bankruptcy protection under the weight of sexual misconduct lawsuits. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was the first to do so in New York.