Buffalo Diocese Sued By New York Attorney General Following Two-Year Investigation

After a two-year investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the Diocese of Buffalo, alleging it covered up allegations of child sexual abuse and misused charitable assets by supporting predatory priests instead of following protocol and reporting them to authorities. Former Bishop Richard Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

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Deadline Set for Filing Clergy Abuse Claims Against Diocese of Buffalo

Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York set the bar date for victims with claims of sexual abuse against the Diocese of Buffalo at August 14, 2021. A bar date is the date by which creditors (victims) need to submit proof of a claim. This means that victims have until August 14, 2021 to submit a claim against the Diocese of Buffalo in federal bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese will be required to notify the public of the August 2021 bar date via notices through mailings, publications, and postings.

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Lawyers Battle to Properly Value Dozens of Buffalo Diocese’s Properties

The Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy in February of this year in the wake of mounting clergy sexual abuse claims. The diocese opted for bankruptcy protection after seeing no other viable option to continue operating given the potential total future obligations the pending sexual abuse lawsuits could entail. The diocese continues to believe that bankruptcy doesn’t hurt abuse survivors, but only helps them by creating a compensation process that equally divides up funds among all abuse survivors, instead of favoring those who filed first.

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Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits – Delays Expected in Buffalo

Victims of clergy sexual abuse with cases against the Diocese of Buffalo should expect delays in compensation awards. In a January ruling by Judge Deborah A. Chimes, Supreme Court of Erie Country, she noted the particular victim (plaintiff) should receive damages for abuse suffered. However there is a catch causing a delay in getting compensation from the Diocese of Buffalo. The Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy. This filing effectively paused all lawsuits and legal proceedings against the dioceses.

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New York’s Child Victims Act Extended Due To Coronavirus

Senators from New York gathered on Friday to discuss extending the time for victims to file a claim for sexual abuse. The original deadline was set to expire on August 14, 2020 but now, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, legislators have agreed to extend it to January 14, 2021; giving survivors of childhood sexual abuse an additional five months to file a claim. The senate felt that since court services have been significantly reduced due to the virus, it was only fair to extend the time for these victims.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Erie County

A childhood victim of priest sex abuse at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church and Holy Trinity School filed a civil lawsuit in Erie County Supreme Court of New York. This New York Catholic Church lawsuit, filed in September of 2019, was filed against the Diocese of Buffalo and claims Monsignor Valerio Bernardo, a pastor of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church and Holy Trinity School, abused the plaintiff during the late 1960s when she was about five years old. The plaintiff and her family were parishioners at Holy Trinity Church and she was a student at Holy Trinity School.

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Other States Offer Glimpse of Ways NY’s Abuse Cases Could Play Out

In August 2019, New York legislature enacted a new law that gave survivors of childhood sexual abuse a one-year window to file a lawsuit against their abusers. Already, over 500 cases have been filed with the state and experts estimate that thousands of lawsuits are on the way. Advocates, including attorneys, for the victims believe that justice is needed in the form of being heard by the public, recognition of the abuse, and financial compensation. Melissa Breger, a professor at the Albany (NY) Law School, agrees, “I think for a lot of these folks, it’s validation that, ‘Yes, what happened to me was wrong and the fact that I was a child and could not do anything about it is being understood now and I can now seek redress as an adult.” Ms. Breger also previously worked with domestic violence victims and victims of childhood abuse.

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Survivors of child sexual abuse gear up to file lawsuits against their abusers in New York

As of August 14, 2019 New York survivors of childhood sexual abuse will be given a one-year window to file a lawsuit against their abusers under the new Child Victims Act passed by NY legislature earlier this year. Thousands of cases are expected to be filed with payout estimates to victims in the millions of dollars. Under the new one-year window law, anyone who was abused is eligible to file a claim with a sexual abuse lawyer. Additionally, New York has gone from one of the worst states to one of the best states to file a childhood sexual abuse lawsuit.

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Buffalo Diocese pays $17.5M to 106 clergy sex abuse victims

106 childhood victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse in the Buffalo, NY area have been paid $17.5 million in compensation. The Buffalo, NY diocese has offered a total of 127 settlements with an average award of $158,622 to the sexual abuse victims. The largest settlement offer is $650,000 and due to increasing offers, the diocese’s total cost could end up north of $18 million. The trend is up. In January 2019, Buffalo News reported that the diocese had offered more than $8 million to nearly four dozen people, according to victims and lawyers. That total settlement amount has more than doubled in less than six months.

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More Than 80 Clergy Members Named in Sexual Abuse Report

Three sexual abuse survivors from the Albany, NY area testified in court recently that they were abused by more than 80 clergy members from the Albany Diocese. One woman testified that she was raped and exploited by a man who was a teacher and counselor at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady, NY. Mark Lyman, another sexual abuse survivor that testified, said “Many of us were told when we were being abused that we were the only one. My reason for being here is to protect children and to make sure that what happened to me as a child doesn’t happen to another child here in New York State.” Mr. Lyman has spoken out more than once about the abuse he suffered as a child growing up at his church in Troy, NY.

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