The Diocese of Rockville Centre Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

October 13, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
The Diocese of Rockville Centre Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The Diocese of Rockville Centre Sexual Abuse Allegations

Formed from the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1957, the Diocese of Rockville Centre now takes the title of the 8th largest diocese in the country, with 392 priests in active ministry, serving about 1.5 million baptized Catholics which is about half of Long Island's population. Announced on October 1, 2020 by Bishop John P. Barres, the diocese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to the sheer volume of lawsuits filed against them. As a result of Governor Cuomo signing legislation extending the “look-back window” for the Child Victims Act, the Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island now faces over 200 sexual abuse allegations. While the Bishop stated in his press release that they have made this decision so all victims would receive fair compensation for their suffering, it is clear this is not the case. One lawyer currently representing 73 people who are suing the Rockville Centre Diocese, states this action is “strategic, cowardly, and wholly self-serving.” After extreme negligence for decades, it is time the Catholic clergy do right by the survivors that have suffered for years and their hands. [Read more articles from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA on Sexual Assault Civil Claims]

What Does the Bankruptcy Filing Mean for Sexual Abuse Survivors?

The Diocese of Rockville Centre filing for bankruptcy is a selfish thing to do and shows the lack of compassion the clergy has for their sexual abuse survivors. It is abundantly clear that filing for bankruptcy is something the churches do out of fear, not out of wanting to do right by the survivors. Victims will most likely not only get less compensation for their pain and suffering, but the filing also allows records that could potentially be of use, to become sealed. Prior to the Child Victims Act, the diocese said that it had already paid around $62 million to settle about 350 cases, which they were able to do through an independent compensation program they had set up in 2017. However, those claimants that were already involved in obtaining a settlement will now have that delayed. As a result of the diocese filing for bankruptcy, many victims involved with cases against the diocese will have to get in line with the other accusers and wait for the funds to be divided between them.

Where Does the Money for Settlements Come From?

Assets have always been a hot topic when discussing what estate is available to go into the pool for victims' settlements. Some dioceses argue that they do not own parish and foundation funds so they should not be accounted for when deciding the victim's settlements, while many lawyers for these victims argue the opposite. It has been shown in other situations similar to these that the dioceses will hide away their assets to try and keep them away from the creditors. Although the diocese has reported liabilities and assets in the $100 million to $500 million range, an attorney who represents 23 clergy abuse victims, Mitchell Garabedian, has stated that it will most likely be necessary to litigate against the diocese to determine exactly what assets they possess and where they are located.

The Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act, which was created last year, has allowed for thousands of victims to come forward with their sexual abuse claims. The Child Victims Act allows survivors to step forward with their allegations and start a civil case regardless of when the abuse happened or how long you have waited to come forward. Originally, the statute of limitations ran out once the victim reached 23 years old. On May 8th, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order which extended the time frame in which claims can be filed. Originally from August 14 2019- August 13 2020, the act has been extended until August 2021. The Child Victims Act has given many people the chance they needed to come forward about their assault and with COVID-19 having putting a halt on the court systems, the year-long extension is something that will be extremely helpful for those who have yet to come forward. More than 3,000 survivors have come forward so far, but it believed that there are many more who have yet to do so.

Who Else Has Filed for Bankruptcy Over Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits?

What the Diocese of Rockville Center is doing is much like that of the Boy Scouts of America. After facing multiple lawsuits against them, most notably Lewis vs. Boy Scouts of America in 2010, the Boy Scouts decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In Lewis vs. Boys Scouts of America, Kerry Lewis, who was a boy scout in the 1980s, alleged that his scout leader, Timur Dykes, had been abusing him during this time. Though people were made aware, and even Dykes himself admitted what he had done, there were no consequences for his actions. Timur Dykes was allowed to continue to work for the Boy Scouts and went on to further molest Lewis. This case also led to files being revealed known as the Perversion List which detailed over 12,000 cases of abuse found as well as 7,800 abusers. The Boy Scouts, having displayed extreme negligence in the caring and protection of the children in their care, were ordered to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages, the largest awarded in a child abuse case in the United States. In the last 13 months the Syracuse Diocese, Rochester Diocese, and Buffalo Diocese have all filed for bankruptcy.

Flawed Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program

The Roman Catholic Church adopted prevention policies in order to curb the sexual abuse that was happening by their clergy. However, after a two-year investigation which included all 32 of the United States archdioceses, they noticed very worrying problems. The areas found to be concerning are:
  • Code of Conduct: there is no outline of various grooming techniques that are most often used by molesters, it only prohibits inappropriate physical contact. An example of commendable code of conduct by the Miami archdiocese is now allowing secrets to be kept with the children.
  • Background Screening: not all archdiocese mandate that the sex-offender registry be checked prior to hiring priests.
  • Whistleblowing: only 5 archdioceses have rules in place to protect them from retaliation if they report sexual misconduct or other illegal activities.
After the investigation it is clear that there is no diocese that has a perfect regulation set in place, there is still much work to do before we can trust that our children's health and safety are not at risk in their care.

Side Effects of Child Sex Abuse

Sexual abuse is not something that affects only the body during the time of the assault. Being sexually abused as a child often leaves life-long physical and mental damages as well. Unfortunately, for many of these side effects, there is no simple fix. Only years of therapy and learned coping mechanisms could possibly manage these symptoms. Often time many survivors are too ashamed or embarrassed to communicate about the problems they might be experiencing as a result of their sexual abuse. Regardless of when the abuse occurred, the survivor may still be suffering in silence. Some side effects that are common after sexual abuse can include the following:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Gastrointestinal health disorders
  • Intimacy problems
  • Personality disorder
  • Phobias
  • Paranoia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • A sense of helplessness
  • Localized pain
A recent study has even shown that stress from sexual assault can have an adverse effect on the body's stress response system. The study also links sexual assault to be the cause of possible health problems such as high blood pressure, 20 percent increase of heart disease, and sleep loss.

Remain Calm When Dealing with Sexual Abuse

When you learn about the sexual abuse of someone you love, it can not only be extremely upsetting but also infuriating. You may have the urge to go confront the person responsible for the harm of your loved one, but it is so important to remain calm and let a sexual abuse lawyer handle your case. You can have full confidence that Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA will have your loved one's best interest in mind The right sexual abuse lawyer for your case will keep you informed throughout the process. From updates regarding your case to treating you with care and compassion, a sexual abuse lawyer could be on your side. Learning important behavioral clues regarding possible sexual abuse is an important first step to helping your loved one. Remaining calm throughout the legal process is important when seeking justice.

Seeking a Qualified Florida Sexual Abuse Attorney

Different than a criminal case, civil cases are not brought on by a prosecutor but instead by you or your lawyer. The suit may also be brought against the sexual abuser or a liable third party. Instead of criminal charges being brought against the abuser, the victim is able to sure for monetary damages for harm caused by the sexual abuse. Civil cases take time, something that is not on your side when it comes to a deadline that comes along with filing for bankruptcy. Time passes quickly and before you know it, the deadline for filing your case can expire. Sexual assault affects not only those who have suffered at the hands of their abuser but also their loved ones. If you or someone you love has been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a clergy member, from now until August 2021, you are able to come forward and start and civil case. No matter your age, no matter when the abuse took place, and even if the claim would be too late under the old statute of limitations. You are not alone. At Dolman Law we have the experience you need in order to obtain the compensation you deserve for your suffering. We work tirelessly as advocates for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. The Catholic Clergy needs to be held accountable for their extreme negligence. When you are ready, we can help you take the proper steps to start your civil claim. Please do not hesitate to give us a call to set up your free, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us by phone at (727) 421-6900, by chatting with us below, or by contacting us on online.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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