U.S. Judge Paul R. Warren denied a motion to seal filed by a Catholic diocese in New York. The diocese of Rochester wanted to protect the identities of the priests whose alleged crimes against children brought them to filing bankruptcy.
The New York Child Victims Act
After the passage of the New York Child Victims Act, many adults came forward to make their claim that they suffered abuse at the hands of these priests. By extending the statute of limitations, the legislation allows individuals who were victimized by priests as children to seek relief in a court of law.
Hundreds of adult survivors in Rochester have come forward. In the alleged interest of a fair and equitable distribution of compensation funds, lawyers for the Rochester diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019. A bishop who oversees the 86 parishes of the Rochester Diocese has denied any attempt to hide funds so as to lower the amount of money available to the victims.
Releasing information about identities
The diocese filed a motion to seal in February 2020 to conceal the identities of the alleged perpetrators, reportedly due to the possibilities of revenge attacks. The bishop has denied that his attempt to conceal their identities is to continue the cycle of secrecy. However, his actions angered some and generated a swift response. Believing the public has a right to know the names and addresses of the perpetrators, a media company filed a motion of its own. Its motion to intervene was approved by Judge Warren, thus making the way for the priests’ personal information to be made public.
These legal moves are not uncommon for the Catholic church, which has faced thousands of abuse claims by parishioners. Rochester was number 20 among dioceses that have filed bankruptcy to protect its assets. Since its filing, more dioceses have followed suit.
Thanks to the New York Child Victims Act, individuals who suffered abuse as children now have a way to help remedy their pasts. Those who have questions about this legislation may want to reach out to an attorney.