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 Portrait of priest Next to the candles prays with his hands folded near the face.

After more than three years of wrangling in federal bankruptcy court, the Diocese of Syracuse has committed to pay $100 million to resolve claims in federal bankruptcy.  The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which is entirely made up of victims who as children were sexually abused by clergy or employees in the Diocese of Syracuse, has agreed to the amount.

The diocese will contribute $50 million to the trust, while parishes will contribute $45 million. Five million dollars will be contributed by other diocesan entities. None of these proposed funds will be paid for by diocesan insurance companies.  In a statement, the diocese said the insurance companies have yet to reach an agreement with the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which is a federally appointed body that represents the interests of the victims.

“As we recently completed our third year of mediation, the assigned mediator in the case did not include insurance carriers in this proposal, as they have yet to agree on coverage issues with the Creditors Committee,” the statement said. “The mediator’s priority was to reach a settlement with the Diocese and its entities first and then pursue insurers.”

There are approximately 400 survivors involved in this matter which began after the state of New York passed legislation in 2020 allowing a “window” for abuse claims to be filed in court.  As a result of the overwhelming number of claims filed in court, the Diocese of Syracuse opted to file for federal bankruptcy protection on June 19, 2020, after more than 100 child sexual abuse lawsuits were filed against it under the state’s Child Victims Act, which allowed claims to be filed past the statute of limitations for a period of two years ending in 2021.

The creditors committee has not yet reached a settlement with insurance providers, but the diocese and the committee will continue discussing a resolution.

The proposed settlement, which still requires court and creditor approval, appears to be the largest in the U.S. since the $210 million settlement reached in 2018 by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and 400 sex abuse survivors.

But $170 million of that money was paid out by the Minnesota archdioceses’ insurance companies, according to news accounts from that time.

The largest Roman Catholic priest sex abuse settlement thus far in the U.S. happened in July 2007, when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 508 victims.

According to the frequently asked questions page, the diocese has paid almost $11 million in legal fees.

In 2018, the Diocese of Syracuse released a list of accused priests which numbered 57.  Bishop Accountability tallied  60 priests in the Diocese who’ve been accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

In the period in which the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program (IRCP) was operative, the Diocese of Syracuse paid $11 million to 85 survivors of abuse.

The Syracuse diocese covers seven counties in central New York…Cortland, Broome, Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, Madison and Chenango.

The Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis

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