At 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, August 14, attorneys across New York State began filing the first lawsuits under the Child Victims Act.
By the end of day one, more than 100 suits were filed in Erie County alone – a majority of them against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
In a video statement, Bishop Richard Malone said he hopes the Child Victims Act will bring survivors the justice they deserve, but points out there have been no substantiated claims against any diocesan priest ordained in the past 30 years.
“At this time it is uncertain how long it will take to respond to all claims of the Child Victims Act,” Malone said. “Our primary concern is to do the right thing for the victim-survivors of abuse, and at the same time ensure that the mission of our church continues.”
According to Attorney Michael Taheri, the court process could take several years, but if the Diocese files for bankruptcy, none of the cases would go to trial – instead, a compensation board would assign pay outs to survivors.
“We would have to see what kind of pool of money would be available,” Taheri said. “I don’t think you have to make the bankruptcy approach if you’re the Bishop if you choose to settle the cases without using this business strategy, and instead put the spiritual life of the church at the forefront.”
In a statement to News 4, a spokesperson from the Diocese of Buffalo said they respect the litigation process, and all new allegations received will be examined and investigated in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and the Policies of the Diocese of Buffalo.