June 18, 2020
By Kristine Christlieb
Rockville Centre diocese’s legal hardball with sex abuse victims
Rockville Centre, N.Y. – The diocese of Rockville Centre — comprising Long Island, New York — is begging a judge for a timeout from the tsunami of nearly 100 pending clergy sexual abuse cases, saying otherwise it will have to declare bankruptcy.
Rockville Centre is one of the largest dioceses in the nation, serving approximately 1.4 million Catholics. It is the latest New York diocese to be in, or close to, bankruptcy. Within the last year, both the dioceses of Rochester and Buffalo have become Chapter 11 debtors, and now Rockville Centre appears to be not far behind.
The dioceses of New York feared this legal and financial reckoning would one day arrive, which is why they fought to defeat the state’s Child Victims Act (CVA). The New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC) never supported the CVA, but the group did ultimately drop its opposition in January 2019.
The organization refused to endorse the legislation because it did not want New York’s statute of limitations extended, allowing abuse cases from the more-distant past to proceed. Plus, it favored legislation with a preference for mediation over litigation. According to reporting in the Daily News, the bishops’ chief fear was having to provide records as part of a lawsuit’s discovery process, a requirement that could potentially be avoided in mediation.
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