Diocese of Rochester Bankruptcy: Let’s Talk Turkey

This morning, New York’s Rochester Diocese became the 20th U.S. diocese to seek bankruptcy protection when faced with child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuits.

Why did the diocese choose to seek bankruptcy protection?

Bishop Matano (pictured above) is making this all about the Benjamins. He wants to elicit sympathy from parishioners, make the public think that Child Victims Act will “pull money from soup kitchens,” and scare survivors into silence by portraying them as the bad guys.

But remember: When survivors come forward, it has nothing to do with money. And the crime is NEVER the fault of the child.

The Diocese of Rochester let kids be sexually abused and raped for decades and then covered up the abuse and forced survivors into silence. These lawsuits are about exposing abusers, punishing wrongdoers, and keeping kids safe.

Survivors want truth in civil trials. Bishop Matano declared bankruptcy to make sure that never happens.

Bishop Salvatore Matano shut the courthouse doors for victims, stopped the ugly and embarrassing (for him) civil suits, and is now trying to shift the blame back onto survivors by pitting them against the Diocese of Rochester’s “ministries to the Catholic faithful.”

Don’t be fooled.

How many cases are there?

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, there are 59 civil suits pending against the diocese, which spans 12 counties.

But this number is misleading.

A closer look at the complaints shows that there are approximately 100 (yes, one hundred) victims who have come forward to say they were abused in the Diocese of Rochester. A number of the lawsuits filed are what I call “rodeo complaints,” that is, a single complaint lists numerous perpetrators and numerous victims.

We are only one month into the 12-month window, so we can expect the number of cases to triple, at least.


What happens now?

Imagine a car going 100 miles per hour on the inside lane of a four lane highway. There is an exit .00001 miles ahead that says: “Bankruptcy, exit here.”

The car doesn’t *quite* come to a screeching halt, but it makes one, hairy, life-altering swerve that no one in the passenger seats will ever forget. Will the car still get to the final destination? Yes. The route will just be a little different.

The civil proceedings will move over to the federal bankruptcy courts. Further civil action on current cases will stop and instead be determined by the federal courts and new procedural policies will be put in place for new cases filed.

I am not a mind reader, but I would not be surprised if other New York dioceses are watching things in Rochester very closely.

What should you do?

  1. If you have filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Rochester, talk to your attorney. Do not worry. In addition to your case moving forward, there may be additional opportunities for you.
  2. If you were sexually abused in the Diocese of Rochester and have not yet filed a case, do not be discouraged. You can still come forward and expose what happened to you. Talk to an attorney and discuss your options. Need help choosing an attorney, watch my video here.
  3. If you are a parishioner, demand honest answers from the bishop about abuse and cover-up. Do not accept victim blaming. Read up on what happened when the Diocese of San Diego unsuccessfully tried to hide behind bankruptcy and were reprimanded by the federal courts.



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