Diocese of Buffalo Objects to FOIL Request To Protect Privacy of Victim-Survivors
(Buffalo, NY) – The Diocese of Buffalo has filed an objection with the New York County State Supreme Court to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request by local news media for all documents related to past instances and allegations of abuse within the Diocese of Buffalo. The Diocese has done so primarily in the interests of victim-survivors and to prevent their personal details from being made widely available to the public.
“To be clear, we have not opposed access to documents for those who are entitled to have them,” said Buffalo Diocese Chief Operating Officer Rick Suchan. “All documents at issue have been already provided to the Chapter 11 Creditors’ Committee representing victim-survivors, but were produced in a form and pursuant to agreed-upon protocols that would not only protect the names of the individuals reporting abuse but also any contextual information that could be used to identify them.”
The Diocese also provided all relevant documents to the New York State Office of the Attorney General during the lawsuit that the Attorney General previously brought against the Diocese and which was successfully resolved last year, as well as to individuals who have a legitimate right to the details included in them: victim-survivors, their attorneys, and Diocesan insurers. The Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy process imposes strict confidentiality requirements that the Diocese has agreed to with the Creditors’ Committee that precludes disclosing details pertaining to claims brought against the Diocese. The Diocese contends that making available the documents to the general public would inevitably disrupt the bankruptcy proceedings and discussions with the Creditors’ Committee, likely resulting in further delay in reaching a settlement agreement for the benefit of victim-survivors.
“The Diocese adamantly rejects any suggestion that, through this action to protect victim-survivors, it is attempting to shield those alleged to have committed abuse, or is in any way preventing victim-survivors from having access to information they require in their efforts to seek justice,” said Mr. Suchan.