He Sued Over a Priest’s Abuse. Then the Diocese Filed for Bankruptcy.

Originally published on The New York Times, September 26, 2019

The Rochester diocese’s move has left many who were promised justice under New York’s Child Victims Act feeling betrayed.

Peter Saracino was in elementary school when, he said, a priest lured him away from a swimming pool and sexually abused him inside a seminary.

He kept the secret for decades, even as his life fell apart.

“We were raised to view the priest as another Christ,” Mr. Saracino said, “so when you get raped by a priest, it’s like being raped by God himself.”

Last month, at 67 years old, Mr. Saracino filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester under a new law in New York that allows victims to seek justice over sexual abuse from long ago.

He expected revelations. Instead, he said, came another betrayal.

His lawsuit and dozens of others against the diocese were supposed to play out in civil court, with the expectation that victims would learn what church leaders knew and did. But the diocese sidestepped all of that by declaring bankruptcy.

Those who had anticipated a dramatic public accounting will now see their fight for culpability swept to the sidelines under the arcane rules of bankruptcy court.

Because the focus moves to the diocese’s assets, plaintiffs will be limited when it comes to asking pointed questions of priests and obtaining sensitive documents.

You can view the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/nyregion/sexual-abuse-rochester-diocese-catholic.html