Facing dozens of child sex abuse lawsuits Diocese of Syracuse files for bankruptcy

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Diocese of Syracuse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday morning, according to the filing with the federal court’s Northern District of New York.

On Wednesday, law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates filed 32 lawsuits against the Diocese, accusing former members of its clergy for sexually abusing children.

According to the document, the Diocese estimates that it has a total of roughly $37.7 million in assets and about $37.8 million in liabilities. There could be more potential liabilities added which could be in excess of tens of millions of dollars relating to the contingent claims arising under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA).

From the opening of the CVA window on August 14, 2019, approximately 100 lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese by plaintiffs who are seeking damages as a result of alleged abuse.

In addition, demand letters and or notices have been received from other claimants who have not yet commenced lawsuits against the Diocese. The Diocese anticipates that as many as 150 or more individuals may file abuse claims.

The window to file under the Child Victims Act has been extended to January of 2021 but as part of the Chapter 11 process, the bankruptcy court will set a claims bar date. The date will be the deadline for sexual abuse survivors to file a claim against the Diocese. Those claims will be heard and decided in bankruptcy court.

The Diocese believes that some of the CVA claims it will face are covered by insurance, however, the Diocese anticipates that some insurance carriers will deny or raise defenses to the coverage.

More than two dozen Catholic Dioceses and Archdioceses across the country have filed bankruptcy, including the Diocese of Buffalo and the Diocese of Rochester.

The documents and the Syracuse Diocese’s press briefing from Friday, June 19 can be found below.

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