Rockville Centre Diocese Close to Bankruptcy amid Clergy Sex Scandal

Patch [New York City NY]

April 29, 2024

By Jerry Barmash

A spokesperson for the diocese said it’s been a “long, difficult mediation with the goal of compensating survivors.”

The Diocese of Rockville Centre remains locked in negotiations as it attempts to have the bankruptcy case dismissed in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, Newsday reports.

The standoff comes after 3 1/2 years and $100 million in legal fees connected to hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests, Newsday said.

In a statement provided by the diocese, they said it’s been a “long, difficult mediation with the goal of compensating survivors while allowing the Church to carry on its charitable and religious mission.”

The Diocese of Rockville Centre could become the first diocese in the nation to have its bankruptcy dismissed amid the sex abuse scandal.

“Currently, the Creditors are demanding an unrealistic amount of money that would cripple the Church and its ministries on Long Island,” a spokesperson for the diocese said.

It made the “highest offer in the history of diocesan bankruptcies for settlement, and the diocese said, “creditors have rejected it.”

James Stang, an attorney representing abuse survivors in the bankruptcy, said that the diocese’s failure to reach a deal was “unprecedented,” Reuters reported.

A major reason for the impasse, according to Newsday, the diocese offered $200 million, while attorneys for survivors seek $450 million.

“It is clear from the actions of the Creditors Committee that it will recklessly attempt to close parishes, schools and other charitable ministries on Long Island in blind pursuit of its scorched-earth litigation strategy,” the Diocese spokesperson said. “This will cripple the mission of the Church on Long Island, while forcing the Diocese to continue to pay the fees of the Creditors Committee’s lawyers and other professionals.”

The next step legally is expected at a court hearing on May 9.

If the bankruptcy is dismissed, survivors would be able to continue with their lawsuits against the diocese, Reuters said.

“Our goals are compensation for all survivors and carrying on the Church’s mission, not endlessly feeding attorney fees,” the diocese said.

“We think the parishes can afford to pay much more and still maintain their religious mission,” Stang told Reuters.