Abuse survivors in Rochester Diocese bankruptcy case ask judge to go to trial

WHAM-TV, Ch. 13 [Rochester NY]

June 8, 2021

By Jane Flasch

Attorneys for survivors who have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester say mediation has failed. Nearly 500 claims are part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding.

Now, in documents filed Tuesday, some are asking the judge to take a rather unusual step: to allow them to move their cases to a different court.

Since Carol Dupre first shared her story of sex abuse, the months now number years. “I keep adding a year on how long I’m going to have to wait, and then I think about after that year or two, how old I’m going to be,” she said.

Dupre says it appears as though many of the legal maneuvers are an attempt to stall the proceedings. She and the others petitioned the bankruptcy court 19 months ago.

“They’re waiting for us to say, ‘Okay, we don’t care, let’s get this over with,'” she said.

In court documents, attorneys for 20 of the survivors say court-ordered mediation between the parties began last January and broke off in March of this year. “Both sides have a substantial disagreement about the amount of proper compensation” for those who have filed claims.

Their attorneys now charge the Rochester Diocese is using bankruptcy to shield information and prevent jury trials that might expose it. Some of their clients want their cases moved to state court where they can do just that.

“The passage of time is not good for survivors,” said attorney Leander James, who filed on behalf of four clients. “The fact these motions are being made is a message something needs to happen here to move this case forward.”

13WHAM has reached out to attorneys representing the diocese in the bankruptcy proceeding. They will have a chance to make their legal case to the judge before he ruled on the request.

With the wait, Dupre relives the hurt that a simple acknowledgement by the Church would allow herself – and others – to move beyond.

“You just want it acknowledged, because a lot of times when you tell someone about it, they’re not believing you,” she said. “I really want to see some of these people healed if they can be, and I think dragging it out won’t help.”