Victims abused by priests can now sue individual parishes

WHAM-TV, Ch. 13 [Rochester NY]

March 24, 2022

By Ginny Ryan

The bankruptcy case of the Catholic Diocese of Rochester could take a potentially significant turn.

A legal stipulation in the case expired at midnight. It allows victims abused by priests to now sue individual parishes.

The bankruptcy case, which is seeking to settle with the victims suing the diocese, is now in its third year. One legal expert tells 13WHAM it could be one of the longest cases on record.

Brian Delafranier is among 500 people who filed lawsuits under New York’s Child Victim’s Act against the diocese.

Facing potentially massive payouts to victims, the diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019.

The case has dragged on for almost three years and that could prove costly.

A legal stipulation in the bankruptcy case staying the sexual abuse cases from moving forward expired at midnight on March 23, 2022. It had been renewed 11 previous times.

The expiration could potentially take the cases out of bankruptcy court and directly pit survivors like Delafranier against the parish where the alleged abuse happened, the accused priest and the diocese.

It could present a potentially costly, and lengthy legal battle – one that many have tried to avoid.

The diocese told 13WHAM Thursday it was aware that the legal stay against parishes had passed.

It said discussions between the diocese and the creditor’s committee are ongoing.