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Rochester diocese files for bankruptcy


The Catholic Diocese of Rochester has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a result of suits related to the sexual-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The paperwork was filed Thursday morning in the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.

In its petition, the diocese says it has between 200 and 999 creditors, that its estimated assets are between $50 million and $100 million, and that its liabilities are between $100 million and $500 million.

The Democrat and Chronicle is reporting that the Rochester diocese is the first of the state’s eight dioceses, and the 20th nationwide, to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of financial fallout from the Catholic Church’s decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.

In filed papers, the diocese’s attorneys say the filing is due to “liabilities arising or asserted in connection with the New York Child Victims Act, the impact of such liabilities on the continuation of the mission of the diocese and the strategic alternatives available to the diocese.”

Hundreds of childhood sexual abuse survivors filed lawsuits in New York courts last month on the first day of a one-year window of opportunity for victims to seek civil action against their abusers.

Attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates filed many of the lawsuits against the Rochester Diocese. He says he’s been in this situation before.

“We have in twelve different cases of reorganization represented dozens, if not hundreds, of survivors in these processes," Anderson says. "So we know how to make it work, we know how to help them help themselves, and help protect other kids.”