BUFFALO, N.Y. — The one-year window for adult victims of childhood sex abuse to bring lawsuits forward is now open. 

Law firm Weitz and Luxemberg held a news conference on Tuesday in Buffalo announcing they represent 129 people filing claims in the WNY area. Of those, 20 to 30 people are expected to involve the Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese.

Also on Tuesday, the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates announced its intentions to file 80 claims in Buffalo on the first day of filing. Their total cases against the Diocese is around 130.

Cases against other entities like schools, doctors, nurses former employers and camp counselors will be filed another day.

“This is a momentous time for courageous survivors who have waited so long for justice in New York,” said Attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates, in a statement released on Tuesday. “They now have an opportunity to take back power stolen from them when they were kids and start to heal.”

It's possible the Diocese alone may face hundreds of cases.

In 2018, the Buffalo Diocese provided a list of priests with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor. In November 2018, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone was interviewed by Two On Your Side's Maryalice Demler about the list and controversy the diocese was dealing with. 

At the same time, the organizing committee for the Movement to Restore Trust called for compassion and healing as the process moves along.

“August 14 marks another milestone in the effort to bring compassion, healing and justice to victims of sexual abuse in New York State. One year ago, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury released the results of its investigation into how sex abuse claims were handled in six dioceses within the Commonwealth. The massive report painted a horrifying picture of a Catholic Church more concerned with its reputational risk than the devastating harm to young people. 

The Pennsylvania Report, coupled with the ongoing revelations of sexual abuse in our Diocese of Buffalo, led to the formation of the Movement to Restore Trust (MRT). MRT is an independent, self-funded organization of concerned, committed Catholics in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo formed to assert the laity’s rightful role in the Church and to help lead a movement to restore trust and confidence in the Church in the wake of public disclosures about the diocese’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases. 

The driving force for our formation was our horror over the suffering of victims of sex abuse and the callous treatment of them. We wanted to be a catalyst for constructive change within our diocese and the Church at large. It was and remains our hope that our actions might help heal the wounds suffered by our brothers and sisters, and reform the Church in such a way that this evil could never happen again. With the reopening of the statute of limitations for sex abuse claims in New York, victims of sex abuse at the hands of clergy and Church personnel are provided with a new opportunity to pursue claims in a court of law. We support them in their quest for justice and we remain in solidarity with all victims of sex abuse. 

While claims are being resolved in the courts or through other avenues, the Movement to Restore Trust will continue to work on bringing about organizational and cultural change within the Diocese of Buffalo that will result in a greater role for the laity in the Church, increased accountability for bishops, and more transparency. Our work has begun, but much remains to be done.”

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