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Diocese of Ogdensburg considers bankruptcy over priest sexual abuse

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 8:25 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 8:31 PM EST
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Diocese of Ogdensburg is considering bankruptcy as the cost of the priest sexual abuse scandal mounts. And dozens more lawsuits may be coming its way.

There have been healing masses, nearly $5.5 million in compensation paid, reconciliations. But it may not be enough. The Diocese of Ogdensburg is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Chapter 11 reorganization has been a positive vehicle through which other diocese have been able to address the needs of claims while continuing to undertake their vital mission as church,” said Darcy Fargo, Diocese of Ogdensburg communications director.

New York's Child Victims Act has driven the diocese to consider the move. 23 more lawsuits have been filed since it went into effect. One law firm alone says it already has 30 more in the pipeline.

“We’ll continue to seek out the other survivors that have been hurt in the diocese of Ogdensburg so that we can bring true accountability and healing to those folks,” said Taylor Stippel, sexual abuse lawyer, Jeff Anderson & Associates.

If the diocese declares bankruptcy, alleged victims' claims would be handled in bankruptcy court. The diocese says it has made no decision yet.

“This remains one of the options that we’re looking at as we deal with the claims through the Child’s Victim’s Act and looking to continue our ministries and to spreading the gospel here in the north country,” said Fargo.

If it declares bankruptcy, the diocese says it's possible some parishes would have to contribute to settlements. Some have been named as defendants. It also cannot guarantee money raised in diocesan fund drives can be kept out of it.

Not only does the number of alleged victims continue to grow, so does the number of accused priests. Lawyers for alleged victims say they plan to reveal the names of still more accused priests, and religious brothers, in their next wave of lawsuits.

That would be in addition to more than 30 priests named already by the diocese and in lawsuits. The claims go back decades. The diocese points out it has not received a credible report of sexual abuse against a minor since 1999.

More information

A mission update circulating among diocese churches
A mission update circulating among diocese churches(WWNY)

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