The Buffalo diocese announced in Feb. 2020 its filing for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. bankruptcy code.
During May 2020, the diocese asked a federal court for an injunction against all outstanding clergy sex abuse litigation against Catholic entites such as parishes and schools, which are named as co-respondents in CVA lawsuits and have not themselves declared bankruptcy. The diocese sought a permanent injunction on litigating these cases in order to reach a “global resolution” for all cases.
In January this year, the diocese released thousands of clergy abuse documents and related records to abuse victims and their lawyers as part of an agreement in ongoing clergy abuse negotiations during its bankruptcy.
According to The Buffalo News, these records were given to victims in exchange for an agreement that pending lawsuits against individual Catholic entities such as parishes or schools are stopped from proceeding.
However, while most of the alleged victims agreed to halt their lawsuits in exchange for the documents, 36 people, represented by attorney Richard Weisbeck, did not.
Chief Judge Carl Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York ruled March 31 that those 36 cases would remain on hold until Oct. 1, citing a potential drain on diocesan assets that could threaten settlement payments for other alleged victims.
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Diocesan parishes and parochial elementary and secondary schools, as well as Catholic Charities of Buffalo, are not included in the bankruptcy filing as they are separate legal entities.
Bishop Richard Malone, who led the diocese from 2012 until last year, resigned in December 2019 following a Vatican-ordered investigation of the diocese by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
Bishop Malone faced accusations during his tenure that he kept priests in active ministry who had been credibly accused of abuse, and shielded abuse allegations from the public eye.