The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg in upstate New York announced Monday that it will file for bankruptcy protection at a time when it faces more than 100 sexual abuse lawsuits.
The diocese, like others in the state, grapples with lawsuits dating back to when New York authorities temporarily suspended the statute of limitations to give child abuse victims the ability to press charges, including for incidents that occurred decades ago. back, against clergy, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and other community figures.
Ogdensburg Bishop Terry R. LaValley said there were 124 cases pending against the diocese, with claims dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Ogdensburg is the sixth of eight New York dioceses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a list that also includes others based in Buffalo, Rochester and Rockville Center on Long Island.
Ogdensburg encompasses a large, but largely rural area, and its 81 parishes are the fewest of any diocese in the state.
Diocese authorities indicated that the objective of the declaration is to resolve legal cases fairly and equitably, maintaining its mission of service.
“Requesting a reorganization does not preclude claims brought by survivors,” LaValley stressed in a prepared statement. “Instead, it establishes a process so that all claims are treated fairly.”
Lawyers for those affected argue that the diocese puts its own interests above accountability.
“By declaring bankruptcy, the diocese knowingly obstructs the long-awaited opportunity for those affected to speak their case; to be heard, to be recognized,” attorney Cynthia LaFave said in a prepared statement.