The Diocese of Rockville Centre proposed a settlement ranging from $185-$200 million to settle claims of more than 600 alleged sexual abuse survivors, officials announced on Friday.
The diocese, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020, proposed the settlement as part of its reorganizational process. Diocese officials said the settlement figures do not include its rights against third-party insurance companies, something the organization will continue to advocate for.
“The alternative litigation path advocated by the committee will take years, and wastefully drain resources that would otherwise be directed toward compensating survivors,” Sean P. Dolan, the diocese’s communications director, said in a statement. “The litigation path also jeopardizes the common good of Long Island, particularly for those families that depend on the diocese to deliver compassionate health care, housing, education, food security, substance abuse, mental health and grief counselling, immigration services, religious and spiritual care.”
Jim Stang, a founding partner of Pachulski Stang Ziehl and Jones, the law firm that represents the Committee of Survivors of the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, told Patch that they proposed a settlement figure of approximately $450 million.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy following lawsuits filed as a result of the Child Victims Act. The act increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of child abuse may be held criminally accountable and allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age.
Diocese leader Bishop John O. Barres said in 2020 that most operations and ministries of the diocese would continue “without interruption” and that the parishes and schools of the diocese were not included in the bankruptcy filing since they were separate legal entities.
Attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates, a New York City-based law firm that filed 73 lawsuits against the diocese under the Child Victims Act, said in 2020 that the filing “changed the dynamics” of the cases brought against the diocese, accusing the diocese of using the bankruptcy code to halt survivors’ efforts.
“Why did Rockville Centre really file?” Anderson said. “We think there’s something different than what they’re telling the public, the people, the parishioners, and survivors. The real reasons, we believe, based on our experiences in Rockville Centre and across the country, are to obstruct the process the survivors have been given by reason of the Child Victims Act.”
In May 2020, State Supreme Court Judge Steven Jaeger of Nassau County rejected a bid by the diocese to dismiss 44 lawsuits filed against it under the act. The diocese faced 203 sexual abuse cases when it filed for bankruptcy, with that total growing to an estimated 600 cases as of today.
Places in the Diocese of Rockville Centre named in the lawsuits against the diocese include Chaminade High School in Mineola, Our Lady of Fatima in Manorhaven, St. Mary’s Church and St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, St. Agnes Cathedral High School in Rockville Centre, St. Hyacinth Parish and All Saints Regional Catholic School in Glen Head, Good Shepherd Parish and Church in Holbrook, Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, St. Andrew’s Parish and Elementary School in Sag Harbor, St. Barnabas Parish and Church in Bellmore, St. Joseph’s Parish and Church in Babylon, St. Lawrence Parochial School in Sayville, St. Patrick’s Parish and School in Bay Shore and St. Philip and St. James Church in St. James, Camp Alvernia in Centerport, Holy Family School in Hicksville, St. Hugh’s in Huntington Station, St. Ignatius Loyola in Hicksville, St. John of God in Central Islip, St. John’s Hospital in Smithtown and St. Rosalie’s in Hampton Bays.