Buffalo Diocese Lawyer Refers to Ag's Lawsuit As "Publicity Stunt"
By Jay Tokasz
February 11, 2021
A Buffalo Diocese lawyer suggested that Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the diocese over its handling of priests accused of sexual abuse was a “publicity stunt” and may have violated bankruptcy court rules designed to protect bankrupt entities.
Stephen A. Donato, who represents the diocese in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese was seeking to settle the lawsuit filed in November. He also said that the diocese already was doing much of what the Attorney General’s Office requested it do to protect children from sexual predators.
“With the utmost respect, I don’t even understand why this lawsuit was commenced, other than maybe a publicity stunt,” Donato said in a court hearing this week.
The lawsuit accused diocese leaders of not sufficiently investigating abuse allegations and of protecting more than two dozen priests accused of abuse by not referring their cases to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood. While not seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks a court injunction that forces the diocese to investigate all abuse accusations, inform the public of credible allegations and enact and enforce policies to prevent a culture of protecting abusers, among other measures.