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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Based on a settlement in a New York diocese's ongoing bankruptcy case, the diocese of Rochester will likely pay more than $75 million to diocesan insurers and survivors of sexual abuse.
The payouts will total $75.6 million, with $55 million going to survivors of child sexual abuse and $20.6 million going to two of the dioceses' insurers.
"This is a major step forward for these courageous survivors, but it's not the end of the fight," said attorney Steve Boyd.
The settlement comes in the wake of survivors of child sexual abuse filing lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act, which went into effect on Aug. 14, 2019. Lawsuits piled in immediately, causing the Rochester diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy several weeks later, on Sept. 12, 2019.
The Child Victims Act in New York extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse. That extension allowed more time for such survivors in criminal and civil cases. In civil cases, the act permitted survivors to sue individuals and institutions involved in the abuse. This swamped New York's dioceses with new claims.
The recent settlement in the diocese of Rochester's bankruptcy case further permits survivors of child sex abuse to legally prosecute all the diocese's insurers. Attorney Jeff Anderson called this "far from a full and fair measure," but it's one that "gets survivors some partial accountability for the heinous misdeeds of the diocese."
"The real villains are the insurance companies that continue to deny and delay," added Anderson. "We and the survivors are marching together to break the insurance hardball stand."
The Rochester diocese was the first in New York to declare bankruptcy in the wake of the New York Child Victims Act. From then until now, four others dioceses joined Rochester: Buffalo, Syracuse and Rockville Centre in 2020 — and the Albany diocese just this month.
The Rochester diocese settlement awaits the vote of nearly 500 child sexual abuse survivors and final approval from the bankruptcy court.
The diocese of Rochester, where the Ven. Fulton J. Sheen was once the local ordinary, covers 12 counties in upstate New York and serves nearly 360,000 Catholics.