Rochester diocese says it has acted in ‘good faith’ in mediation with abuse survivors

The Diocese of Rochester on Thursday said it has been acting in “good faith,” in response to claims by clergy abuse survivors that the diocese is stalling in bankruptcy mediation proceedings. 

“The Diocese has acted in good faith over the course of multiple mediation sessions and is committed to continuing those good faith negotiations with its insurers and the Creditors Committee,” a spokesperson for the diocese told CNA in a statement on Thursday.

The diocese, which filed for bankruptcy in September 2019, had entered into negotiations with victims of sex abuse during the bankruptcy proceedings. 

A bankruptcy court judge in 2019 ordered mediation talks between the parties. There have been 475 abuse claims filed in the bankruptcy proceedings. Some victims claimed that the diocese is intentionally prolonging the talks and pushing off a solution. 

“They’re waiting for us to say, ‘Okay, we don’t care, let’s get this over with,'” Carol Dupre, a sex abuse victim in the case, told 13WHAM. Attorneys for 20 survivors are now pushing for their cases to be moved to a state court for trial, 13WHAM reported.

In court papers filed on Tuesday, attorneys for the unsecured creditors committee argued that court-ordered mediation has been unsuccessful and the diocese has not offered acceptable compensation. 

“The Committee has attempted to mediate a reasonable and appropriate settlement with the Diocese and its insurers. However, to date, the mediation has not been successful,” the attorneys stated.

“The Diocese and its insurers have not offered an amount remotely acceptable as fair compensation to Sexual Abuse Claimants. Therefore, the Committee has concluded that the logjams of the mediation can best be addressed through litigation of a sample group of cases in the state courts that are best suited to adjudicate sexual abuse claims in the State of New York,” the filing stated.

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