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Archdiocese offers $65 million in remuneration for sex abuse victims
June 7th, 2016
By Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Sixteen months after entering Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed a plan for reorganization May 26 as part of the bankruptcy process.

The plan identifies more than $65 million in assets the archdiocese anticipates will be available to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse, with the potential for that amount to grow.

The plan outlines specific sources for funds available for victim remuneration, including at least $8.7 million from the sale of archdiocesan properties, including three chancery buildings, as well as more than $33 million from insurance settlements. It establishes a trust for victim remuneration funds, with a court-approved allocation protocol.

The plan also includes settlements from parish insurers of approximately $13.7 million with the potential for future settlements from archdiocesan insurers that are not currently entering into agreements with the archdiocese. The archdiocese is seeking to transfer the rights of recovery for those policies to the trustee of the trust for victims.

“We filed our plan today – at 16 months – because victims/survivors cannot be compensated until a plan for reorganization is finalized and approved,” Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said during a news conference May 26. “The longer the process lasts, more money is spent on attorneys’ fees and bankruptcy expenses, and, in turn, less money is available for victims/survivors. ... We are submitting our plan now in the hope of compensating victims/survivors and promoting healing sooner rather than later.”

The plan filing came a day after the deadline for decades-old sexual abuse claims to be filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which the state Legislature passed in 2013. The law lifted for three years the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse civil suits.

The lifting of the statute ushered in a wave of claims against clergy who had been or were serving in the archdiocese, leading the archdiocese to enter bankruptcy in January 2015 as a means to distribute assets equitably and fairly among victims. By a court-established claim deadline in August 2015, more than 400 claims of clergy sexual abuse had been filed against the archdiocese.

In a May 25 statement, the Minnesota bishops apologized for the pain suffered by victims. “While we cannot say or do anything to return the innocence of youth that was stolen, we will work to restore broken relationships with family, friends and loved ones and heal the pain caused to so many,” they said.

From June 9, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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