(WBNG) -- As the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, more survivors are coming forward with decades-old accusations against a local former priest and a former Catholic school teacher.
The Diocese of Syracuse announced in a press conference on Friday it is declaring bankruptcy in wake of dozens of recent lawsuits and pandemic-related financial struggles.
Many of the victims are just now coming forward because the Child Victims Act signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2019 opens a "one year look back window" in which anyone who was under the age of 18 when sexually abused can file a civil suit.
Former priest of St. Catherine of Siena in Binghamton, Father Edward C. Madore, has five cases against him, accusing him of years-worth of sexual abuse. He was ordained back in 1970 and stayed until 1987 when he left priesthood and disappeared from church records. Madore is believed to be somewhere in Upstate New York, but his specific whereabouts are unknown.
"We don't know where he is, what he's doing, whether he's with or in proximity to children..and that's concerning to us," said Taylor Stippel who works for LaFave, Wein & Frament PLLC law firm representing the victims in these cases.
Not only are they representing for charges against Madore, but they are also the attorneys for victims filing cases against former St. John the Evangelist school and Seton Catholic Central school teacher, James Francis Purtell. Stippel says Purtell is accused of sexually abusing two minors and is believed to still live in the Binghamton area.
Attorney, Cynthia LaFave, says when the Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it blocked several documents of Madore's records her law office was about to receive. She says the bankruptcy was a way for the Diocese to hide information.
However, the Bishop of Syracuse who has been in his position for almost a year, spoke at a press conference in Syracuse Friday defending himself, saying, "For me, transparency is important, so I'm not hiding anything. In fact, by declaring Chapter 11, we're not hiding anything saying we just do not have the means to provide the legal costs and also provide settlements."
LaFave says the Child Victims Act still protects victims, despite the bankruptcy and encourages anyone who may need help to call the state's hotline.