Lawyer claims NY’s case in opposition to the church is for “promoting”

Stephen A. Donato, a lawyer representing the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, pointed out that Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against his church was just a “publicity stunt”. He also suggested that it may have violated the bankruptcy court’s rules, which are in place to protect liquidators.

Donato told Chief Justice Carl L. Bucki that the diocese had attempted to settle the lawsuit over allegations of sexual abuse by priests filed last November. He also said the diocese has already implemented most of the Attorney General’s recommendations to protect children from sexual predators.

“With the greatest respect, I don’t even understand why this lawsuit was started, except perhaps a publicity stunt,” Donato said at a recent hearing, adding that the diocese already does the “lion’s share of everything the Attorney General does.” asked for it. “

In an affidavit presented to the court, Bishop Michael W. Fisher said: “The diocese is concerned that the Attorney General is trying to exercise state control over church internal operations, contrary to the protection provided by the First Amendment facility clause.”

Photo by Shalone Cason on Unsplash

The lawsuit has accused leaders of the Catholic diocese of failure to exercise due diligence to follow up reports of sexual misconduct and protect more than two dozen priests by allowing them to continue to serve in their positions rather than addressing the alleged abuse cases Referring them to the Vatican to determine if they should be removed from the priesthood. In the case of the AG, a court order is sought, according to which the diocese, according to court files, “must investigate all allegations of abuse, inform the public of credible allegations and issue and enforce guidelines to prevent a culture of protection from abusers”. No financial damage is required.

“Our lawsuit speaks for itself. Individuals who are victims of abuse deserve their claims to be investigated in a timely manner and determined, which the Diocese of Buffalo has refused to do. We continue to work steadfastly to ensure transparency and accountability in all New York State dioceses, “said Morgan Rubin, Attorney General’s spokesman.

The Committee of Creditors, which represents child sexual abuse survivors in the Buffalo diocese bankruptcy proceedings, has opposed Church efforts to hire additional lawyers. Survivor advocates have opposed these claims, arguing that this should not be a legal battle against the protection of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. “The committee asks very seriously why the diocese will in any way oppose this,” said Ian Scharf, attorney for the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee, which consists of survivors.

If it is true that most of what the attorney general is looking for is already in place, “a law firm doesn’t need an hourly negotiation fee of $ 800 to $ 900 an hour,” added Richard Weisbeck, attorney of nearly thirty plaintiffs in the Child Victims Act represents cases against the diocese and other Catholic entities. He said, “The current lawyers should negotiate the settlement, which should be easy as all of these funds are supposedly already in place.”


The lawyer for the Diocese of Buffalo describes the AG’s action as a “publicity stunt”.

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