The bankruptcy firm that represents the Diocese of Norwich on Thursday published the names and addresses of 142 clergy sexual assault victims in a federal court document that was publicly available online.
The document filing by Epiq Corporate Restructuring of New York City means that the names were available for about 21 hours even though all but one of the victims had been assured their names would not be released and the federal bankruptcy judge handling the case had ordered they remain anonymous.
The 142 people allege they were sexually assaulted by priests and other members of diocese and are seeking compensation in the diocese’s ongoing bankruptcy proceeding.
“This is just a horrible, horrible thing,’ said New London attorney Kelly Reardon, who represents 25 of the victims. ”These people had already been victimized. They don’t need their names published now. Someone is going to have to be held accountable for this.“
Reardon said that for many victims, few people know they were sexually assaulted.
“In many instance my clients have never told anyone but me,” she said.
Marci Hamilton, the CEO of Child USA and a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies the clergy abuse issue, has testified before a General Assembly study committee that people sexually assaulted by priests do not tell anyone what happened to them until age 52, on average.
On Friday night lead diocesan bankruoptcy attorney Louis DeLucia issued the following statement.
“In association with the bankruptcy filings, earlier today we learned of a clerical error on the part of Epiq Corporate Restructuring, which resulted in the names of some abuse survivors being published. The Diocese, in collaboration with the Committee representing the Diocese’s creditors, including abuse survivors, promptly filed a motion with the Bankruptcy Court to remove the names that were published in error, and seal the record to protect the identity of the survivors. Any person who might have accessed the names should immediately destroy the list and not publish the names, because, pursuant to Orders entered by the Bankruptcy Court, such information is to be kept confidential,” he wrote.
Reardon said all but one of the 142 victims had checked a box on their claim form that said they wanted their identities not be made public.
On Friday morning a court filing shows that Judge James Tancredi had signed an order sealing the document containing the names for “good and compelling cause.” The document also been removed from the online case website.
It is unknown, though, how many people accessed, downloaded or copied the document, before it was removed.
One victim, who has never spoken publicly about his assault, contacted The Day early Friday morning and said he discovered his name and address had been listed while he was reviewing the latest court filings on Thursday. He had taken a screenshot of the filing which he shared with The Day.
When that victim contacted Reardon about 7:30 a.m, she said she immediately called the other attorneys in the case, who alerted the bankruptcy court.
“They were equally appalled and took steps to get the document removed,” she said.
The time stamp on the document showed it was filed about noon on Thursday. It was removed about 9 a.m. Friday morning.
While the court removed it within 90 minutes after Reardon learned of the posting, she pointed out it “was publicly available since noon yesterday.”
Reardon said she expected Tancredi would hold an emergency hearing to discuss the issue and that she expected the court to take action for what she called a “significant breach.”
Tancredi and Epiq did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. Attorneys Stephen Kindseth and Eric Henzy, who represent the committee of victims, declined to comment Friday.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2021 as it faced more than 60 lawsuits filed by men who say they were sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers, staff and students at the diocese-run Mount Saint John Academy, a residential school for troubled boys in Deep River, from 1990 to 2002. Since the bankruptcy filing, 82 additional people, whose sexual assault allegations involved not only the school, but diocesan churches, have filed claims in the bankruptcy case.
Since the diocese filed for bankruptcy, it has negotiated with its insurance company, parishes, the committee representing victims and creditors and other entities to create a fund to compensate the victims. The diocese filed a plan last month that says it has $29 million to distribute to creditors, including the victims, who will have to vote on the plan. Part of the $29 million will come from the sale of St. Bernard School in Montville.
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