Advocate for abuse survivors booted off group negotiating Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy settlement

Buffalo News [Buffalo NY]

November 7, 2022

By Jay Tokasz

An outspoken critic of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese’s handling of childhood sex abuse cases has been removed without explanation from the committee of unsecured creditors that represents abuse survivors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Kevin Brun, who confronted diocese leaders in bankruptcy court about pension payments for priests who were credibly accused of abuse and other issues, was dismissed amid the committee’s ongoing mediated settlement negotiations with the diocese and its insurers, parishes and schools.

Brun sued the diocese in 2019, alleging a priest molested him in a Washington, D.C., hotel room when he was 16. He was named to the creditors committee in 2020 with six other people who have childhood sex abuse claims against the diocese.

The committee is responsible for examining the diocese’s assets, liabilities, operations and claims made against it and acting as fiduciary for all abuse survivors in negotiating a settlement.

“The trustee has reconstituted the committee without Kevin as a participant,” said Brun’s attorney, Paul Barr.

Changes to creditors committees in the middle of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy are unusual but not unprecedented. In June, two committee members were replaced as the committee began mediated settlement negotiations in the Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy.

Barr said he couldn’t reveal why Brun was no longer involved, other than to say it was “an unfortunate turn of events.”

“I thought Kevin’s voice was important and remains important for his support of survivors,” said Barr.

Ilan Scharf, lead attorney for the creditors committee, confirmed that Brun was no longer part of the committee but declined to comment on why. No one was being added to the committee as a replacement, multiple sources said.

Brun said on Monday that he wanted to continue as part of the committee, and he declined to comment on what brought about the change.

In a 2020 interview, Brun told The News he had sought to be on the committee to act on behalf of all abuse survivors and to honor the memory of his son, Patrick, who died at age 21 in 2019. Patrick Brun found a letter about the abuse that his father had written to the diocese and accidentally left in plain view in their West Seneca home. Brun said his son encouraged him to seek justice. A day later, Patrick Brun died by suicide, and Brun has worried that his son’s reading the letter may have been a contributing factor.  

“Not following it through to the end, I still hold some type of feeling that I did let someone down – not only survivors, but my son,” Brun said Monday.

Committee members are held to strict confidentiality requirements, and the work of the committee is largely done in private. Brun worked within those confines, but he also didn’t shy away from commenting publicly on how the diocese handled childhood sex abuse allegations and priests who were credibly accused of abuse.

He has been especially vocal in urging diocese officials to make public any internal documents they have regarding abuse allegations against priests – a stance that many other abuse survivors share.

“If the bishop and diocese were truly committed to total transparency, they’d release the secret files to the public so they could see for themselves the damage that was inflicted by employees of the Diocese of Buffalo,” Brun said Monday.