Faced with bankruptcy, the diocese proposes a settlement plan | Greene County
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on Thursday proposed a plan to avoid litigation and bankruptcy and ensure fair and full compensation for survivors of child sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act.
The proposal ‘secures the bulk of these limited funds for all, not just a few, of the survivors who have filed claims under the Child Victims Act and ensures that the bulk of the funds will go to the survivors and less to legal fees and court costs. according to a statement released by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.
Details of the plan have not been released, but a brief summary from Scharfenberger’s office shows a settlement framework in which each survivor has the opportunity to present their case under court supervision and with the assistance of a licensed mediation team. by all parties.
Prior to any settlement, “a thorough and impartial audit of available assets will be undertaken so that no hidden corners remain,” the statement said. “Participants are free to retain counsel and seek further assistance from the diocese through a canonical process.”
“Currently, two divergent courses of action are emerging in the Diocese of Albany,” the statement said. “One is the litigation route. The other is to file for bankruptcy. In either case, the amount of funds available to be paid to survivors is the same. »
Sexual abuse charges were brought against the Reverend Gregory Weider in May, dating back to his time at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Coxsackie. On May 15, the diocese announced that Weider had been added to its list of those credibly accused of sexual abuse after an investigation determined that reasonable cause had been established for the truthfulness of the allegations against him.
Weider, 85, is among the clergy who were credibly charged while serving in the Diocese of Albany. The diocese confirmed sexual assault allegations were made against Weider dating back to his tenure at the Coxsackie church, which ran from October 1977 to March 1982.
The settlement option, favored in the proposal, was developed over several months by a team of legal and financial experts as a means of distributing the funds so that the survivors shared them fairly, instead of those who sued the deplete, leaving less or no funds. for those who later sued, according to the statement.
“I am aware that offending institutions should not, or cannot be assumed to have confidence in their credibility or even good faith, so it seems best to just lay out the plan and let it stand or fall on its own merits. ,” Scharfenberger said Thursday. “I believe this proposal is fair, treating all survivors equally.”
The plan was formulated in consultation with Judge Joan N. Feeney of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, and in which the court, overseeing the Child Victims Act litigation in Albany, expressed interest, according to the press release. Feeney has nearly 27 years of experience on the bench and 23 years as a member of the United States Bankruptcy Appeals Panel for the First Circuit.