Abuse survivors and Catholic Diocese of Rochester face off in bankruptcy court

WHAM-TV, Ch. 13 [Rochester NY]

April 27, 2022

By Ginny Ryan

The Rochester Catholic Diocese is being accused of acting in bad faith.

Sex abuse survivors are frustrated the diocese bankruptcy case is still not settled. When they joined the case, their civil lawsuits against individual parishes and priests were frozen. After three years without a settlement, they now want to be able to proceed with those lawsuits.

Brian Delafranier, a survivor of the abuse, said him and other victims deserve to be compensated for the abuse they suffered.

“There’s close to 500 of us who want our day in our court,” said Delafranier.

In a hearing in bankruptcy court today, the judge heard oral arguments in the case.

The diocese attorney is trying to block the individual lawsuits, asking the judge today for a temporary injunction. The attorney said the diocese wants four more months to continue mediation in the bankruptcy case. Without it, the diocese argued a wave of lawsuits will follow.

The attorney for some of the survivors accused the diocese of acting in bad faith, deliberately delaying a bankruptcy settlement and told the judge, “Enough is enough.”

Another attorney for other survivors told the court he has been involved in 20 similar bankruptcies across the country, and Rochester’s is the only one that has yet to be settled.

Delafranier said he is tired of waiting. “It’s completely ridiculous,” said Delafranier. “It’s about time they fess up to what has happened to us over the years and make it right.”

The only people who have been compensated in this case so far, are attorneys for the diocese. According to a recent court filing, legal fees amount to $6 million.

The bankruptcy judge must now decide whether the survivor’s lawsuits against individual parishes and priests can go ahead. On Wednesday, the judge said his written decision would be issued in a few weeks.