A NY bankruptcy judge has denied the Diocese of Buffalo’s petition to expedite the bankruptcy proceedings and move the bar date from August to March 2021. However, Judge Carl Bucki denied the petition and kept the original bar date as August 14, 2021.
In its petition, the Diocese of Buffalo claimed that they are suffering a financial crisis which forces them to cut programs and lay off workers. This in spite of the fact that the Diocese is paying a public relations consultant $10,000 per month plus $3,500 in expenses. A lawyer for the creditors committee, most of whom are sexual abuse survivors, disputes the church’s claim that they are in dire financial straits.
Unfortunately for abuse survivors in Buffalo, the bankruptcy protects the interests of the Diocese far more than it preserves the rights of abuse survivors. In bankruptcy proceedings, creditors are paid usually paid pennies on the dollar for their claims and most importantly the Diocese’s secrets concerning the sexual abuse crisis remain secret. Civil trials are the only avenue in which the truth is revealed about how the Diocese of Buffalo handled sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests for decades. Now that the Diocese of Buffalo has entered into bankruptcy, those details will remain shielded from the public.
While not the largest diocese in the state of New York, the Dioceses of Buffalo and Rockville Centre have been the most aggressive in frustrating the rights of survivors of sexual abuse. Both dioceses have been the targets of federal and state corruption probes. The Diocese of Buffalo’s bishop was forced to resign last year to whistleblower allegations of corruption and malfeasance. Earlier this year, the Diocese of Buffalo’s Vicar General (2nd in charge to the bishop) was placed on leave due to substantiated allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor. Fr. Peter Karalus was reinstated a short two months later after an internal but so-called “independent” investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the Vicar General.
Last summer, the Diocese of Buffalo was the subject of a racketeering lawsuit filed on behalf of 23 abuse survivors. The suit — which is civil, not criminal — references the Racketeers Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, which is a statute designed to target organized crime.
The suit has 23 plaintiffs and focuses on “payments to the law firms and accountants to perform their roles in concealing the misconduct” by the diocese. It names multiple priests and diocesan officials — as well as Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Bishop Edward U. Kmiec — and alleges diocesan officials “associated together for the common purpose of harassing, threatening, extorting, and misleading victims’ [sic] of sexual abuse committed by priests; and misleading the priests’ victims and the media to prevent” it from becoming public.
The suit also states two whistleblowers came forward to report “wrongful conduct” by clergy — specifically Rev. David Bialkowski — and were “terminated” by the diocese as a result.
And yet, all these allegations are moot because the Diocese of Buffalo enjoys bankruptcy protection. That is a travesty of justice for those who’ve suffered childhood sexual abuse.
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Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.