Retired Bishop Clark to Be Deposed Within Next 30 Days, Judge Rules
February 11, 2020
Rochester, N.Y. – A federal judge has ruled retired Bishop Matthew Clark will be deposed amid ongoing bankruptcy proceedings against the Diocese of Rochester.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy last year amid the filing of lawsuits under the Child Victims Act.
Attorneys had asked a judge to put the retired bishop on the stand. They say Clark, who presided over the diocese for more than three decades, knows the answers to questions only he can answer related to “his knowledge of sexual abuse”, “transfers of sexual abusers” and how complaints against priests were investigated.
In September, the diocese announced Clark had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis was announced less than a month after lawsuits began to be filed under the Child Victims Act, and less than two weeks before the diocese declared it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Attorneys for CVA victims said it was critical Clark answer questions related to their cases “before he is no longer able to testify.”
Close to 100 lawsuits filed against the diocese under the CVA include allegations of abuse that would have happened during Clark’s tenure.
Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Clark must be deposed sometime in the next 30 days. The deposition will be allowed to take place wherever Clark feels comfortable, and one attorney from the survivors' side will be present to question Clark.
The deposition will last up to three hours, including breaks. A doctor or aide for Clark will be allowed to be present.
A transcript of the deposition will be made available. There will be no audio or video recording allowed. A judge will not have to be present, but will be available by phone if needed.
The judge also allowed attorneys to have access to personal diaries and documents belonging to Clark that may pertain to their cases.
According to previous court testimony, Clark retains cognitive function, however he no longer drives. Clark's attorney says he has trouble recalling past events and now suffers from language impairments.
Attorneys for CVA victims said in court Tuesday that, despite the announcement of his diagnosis in September, Clark accompanied Bishop Salvatore Matano on a trip to the Vatican in November.
Steve Boyd represents 101 sexual abuse survivors who have filed claims.
"Bishops around the world have been told to keep these secret files," he said. "For most of our clients, what they want more than anything is the transparency to know what really happened to them, who knew, who could have stopped this."
"It's accountability," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 85 survivors. "It's respect. It's healing. It's dignity. It's self-esteem. It means so much to have a voice in court."
Attorneys say it is not clear what will come of Clark's deposition.
"The next transparent diocese I deal with will be the first," he said. "I'm not that hopeful, but we have to explore. We have to ask the questions."