The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse will pay $100 million to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of the church’s clergy, religious leaders, lay employees and volunteers.
The diocese — which filed for bankruptcy in June 2020 after victims filed more than 100 lawsuits against it — reached the agreement late last week with the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, whose members all survived child sex abuse, according to a press release.
“This settlement shows the commitment of sexual abuse survivors, especially this committee, to stick together, and that when the Diocese tries to work with victims, instead of against them, a consensual resolution can be reached,” Jordan Merson, the attorney who represented the committee’s now-deceased vice chair and continues to represent nearly two dozen survivors, said in a statement.
The lawsuits were filed after the state passed the New York Child Victims Act in 2019, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse to file claims.
The settlement is the second by a New York diocese and the second-largest by a Catholic institution during a bankruptcy proceeding, according to the Times Union.
The diocese will contribute $50 million, while another $45 million will be raised from 119 parishes within the organization, the Catholic Sun said.
Although accepted by both the committee and the diocese — which includes seven counties in New York state — creditors and the court must also sign off before it moves forward, the release said.
“I can tell you as shocking as the settlement amount may seem to leaders of our own parishes and other Catholic entities, more appalling and heart-rending to me is the pain and mistreatment experienced by the survivors of child and adult sexual abuse at the hands of those they thought they could trust,” Syracuse Bishop Douglas J. Lucia said in a letter to his congregation.
“As the present leader of the church of Syracuse, I cannot apologize enough for the abuse which happened or for any neglect in dealing with it,” Lucia continued. “This is why the final settlement will include commitments meant to strengthen our safe environment protocols to further ensure the past does not repeat itself.”