The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors announce today that they have reached a settlement agreement in the chapter 11 case filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of New York on June 19, 2020. The Diocese and the Committee believe that this settlement is an important first step in forming a chapter 11 plan that will lead to the Diocese's exit from chapter 11.
The settlement will provide payment in the amount of $100 million dollars to all survivors of sexual abuse for acts perpetrated against them by clergy, religious, lay employees, and volunteers. Although the settlement amount remains subject to a creditor vote and court approval, the dollar figure of the settlement has been accepted by the Official Committee. The Committee is comprised entirely of individuals who themselves survived sexual abuse when they were children by clergy members and employees within the Diocese of Syracuse.
Agreement on a monetary settlement marks a very significant achievement in the case, but important issues remain. The Diocese and the Committee are continuing to discuss the details of child protection protocols that will enhance measures already in place to protect young parishioners, students, and other vulnerable individuals within the Diocese. The discussions on child protection have been productive, collaborative, and extensive and Bishop Lucia has been personally engaged throughout the process. The Diocese and the Committee will soon be in a position to announce an agreement on these enhanced measures that will further strengthen the safe environment program in the Diocese of Syracuse.
"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, writes Bishop Douglas J. Lucia in his Letter to the Faithful also issued today. "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. 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."
"This settlement is a significant step forward in the healing process for over 400 victims in this case," according to Dr. Kevin Braney, Denver CO, who serves as Chair of the Official Committee. "I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow survivors and their families, for their endurance as they have patiently awaited this news. The Committee looks forward to our continued collaboration with Bishop Lucia and his leadership team as we work to settle with the Diocese's insurers and enhance the Diocese's child protection protocols."
This settlement between the Committee and the Diocese, parishes, and other entities affiliated with the Diocese does not include a contribution from any of the six insurance companies that provided coverage to the Diocese. The Diocese and the Committee will continue to work in earnest to negotiate with the insurance carriers who are involved in this case with the goal of achieving a global settlement. In Diocesan bankruptcy cases, it is typical for Church insurers to contribute the majority of the global settlement amount paid to survivors of abuse.