Recently, the presiding judge set a bar date for survivors to file claims with the court. To receive compensation from the diocese, survivors must file a claim with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court by April 15, 2021.
A bar date in a bankruptcy proceeding is the deadline for creditors (victims) to file a claim with the court.
Sexual Abuse In The Syracuse Diocese
The Syracuse Diocese is one of many Catholic dioceses facing sexual abuse allegations across the country. In 2019, New York lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). This law extended the statute of limitations for civil claims of child sexual abuse.
Additionally, the CVA opened a one-year “look back” window that revived all expired cases. Because of this provision, priest abuse survivors with expired cases can file lawsuits against their abusers and responsible institutions.
The majority of the legal claims against the Syracuse Diocese are filed under the CVA. The seven other Catholic dioceses of New York have also faced a greater number of lawsuits since the CVA took effect.
Syracuse Diocese Files For Bankruptcy
The Syracuse Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. It is currently one of four New York dioceses to file for bankruptcy. Nationally, it is one of 27 bankrupt Catholic dioceses.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used to protect businesses that are struggling financially. The process evaluates and reorganizes a business’ assets. In doing so, a business can pay off debts while maintaining enough capital to continue operating.
According to Bishop Douglas Lucia, bankruptcy was necessary to handle the growing number of legal claims filed under the CVA. At the time of filing, the diocese faced more than 100 claims filed by victims of abusive priests.
Victim Advocates Oppose Bankruptcy Filing
Victim advocates claim bankruptcy proceedings protect dioceses from releasing records to the public. When a diocese goes bankrupt, all lawsuits against the diocese are suspended. To receive compensation, survivors are forced to file a claim through the federal court. Thus, survivors lose their chance to reveal Church cover-ups through litigation.
“It gives them the opportunity to stop us and the survivors from excavating their secrets, their history, their practices…Once they file, we can no longer uncover their files, their top officials who have concealed this, and all the offenders that are in their files.”
Bankruptcy Judge Sets Bar Date
In October 2020, Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz, the federal judge presiding over the bankruptcy proceedings, established a filing bar date for survivors.
Clergy abuse survivors seeking compensation from the Syracuse Diocese must file a claim with the court by the bar date: April 15, 2021. A survivor must file a claim by this April deadline or risk forfeiting a potential payout.
Bar Date Limits Survivors
The CVA’s “look back” window was originally set to close in August 2020. New York lawmakers extended the window by another year following pandemic-related court closures. Survivors of child sexual abuse now have until August 14, 2021, to file a civil lawsuit in New York.
Unfortunately, the New York State extension for child sex abuse claims does not help survivors suing the Syracuse Diocese. Syracuse Diocese victims must comply with the April bar date instead. As a result, these victims lose roughly four months between the two deadlines.
How To File A Claim With The Syracuse Diocese
To receive compensation, survivors must file a claim with the assigned claims agent, Stretto. Stretto’s website provides more information about the filing process. Survivors can also call 855-329-4244 for more information about filing a proof of claim.
Some survivors may find the filing process overwhelming. For this reason, many claimants turn to a lawyer for help. Our experienced legal team can guide you through the claims process.
Borrelli, A. (2020, June 19). Syracuse Diocese, facing Child Victims Act sex abuse lawsuits, files for bankruptcy. Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
McMahon, J. (2020, June 19). Syracuse Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy. Syracuse.com.
Northern District of New York. (N.D.) Bar Date Notice [PDF]. United States Bankruptcy Court.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. (2020, November 30). Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz Sets August 15, 2021 as Deadline for Filing Proofs of Claim in Diocese of Syracuse’s Chapter 11 Reorganization Case.
Stretto. (N.D.) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, New York.