Arch­dio­cese set­tles abuse cases for US$21 mil.

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY SCOTT BAUER

The Ro­man Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Mil­wau­kee said Tues­day that it will pay US$21 mil­lion to more than 300 vic­tims of clergy abuse in a set­tle­ment that would end a fouryear bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ing.

The pro­posed deal, which will be part of a re­or­ga­ni­za­tion plan sub­mit­ted to a bank­ruptcy court later this month, was to be re­viewed by a judge over­see­ing the case at a Nov. 9 hear­ing. Arch­bishop Jerome Lis­tecki called the set­tle­ment a “new Pen­te­cost.”

“To­day, we turn the page on a ter­ri­ble part of our history and we em­bark on a new road lined with hope, for­give­ness and love,” Lis­tecki said in a state­ment.

The set­tle­ment was reached af­ter three days of ne­go­ti­a­tions in July in Mil­wau­kee be­tween the arch­dio­cese, the cred­i­tors’ com­mit­tee and at­tor­neys for abuse sur­vivors, the arch­dio­cese said.

At­tor­ney Jeff An­der­son, who rep­re­sents peo­ple who have filed 350 of the ap­prox­i­mately 570 bank­ruptcy claims, crit­i­cized the arch­dio­cese for try­ing to have hun­dreds of claims thrown out of court be­fore a Novem­ber bank­ruptcy hear­ing. As a re­sult, the cred­i­tors’ com­mit­tee was forced to pre­vent the case from be­ing drawn out any longer, An­der­son said.

“The treat­ment of the sur­vivors by the Arch­dio­cese of Mil­wau­kee has been harsh and hurt­ful,” An­der­son said in a state­ment. “This process has been heart­break­ing for many who have been treated so un­fairly by hard­ball le­gal tac­tics. The sur­vivors con­tin­ued to stand up for what was right, what they be­lieved in, and to make sure the truth was brought to light. Be­cause of them, chil­dren are bet­ter pro­tected.”

The deal was also crit­i­cized by David Clo­hessy, di­rec­tor of the Sur­vivors Net­work of those Abused by Priests. He ac­cused church of­fi­cials of “cram­ming a self- serv­ing plan down the throats of strug­gling abuse vic­tims.”

Un­der terms of the deal, 330 abuse sur­vivors will share US$ 21 mil­lion and a US$ 500,000 ther­apy fund will be es­tab­lished for them to re­ceive coun­sel­ing for as long as they need it. All of the arch­dio­cese’s parishes, schools and in­sti­tu­tions would be pro­tected from fu­ture law­suits re­lated to abuse claims.

Some peo­ple will get no money un­der the deal. No pay­ment will be given to 157 claims that had pre­vi­ously been dis­al­lowed or dis­missed, were not for sex­ual abuse, did not name the abuser or where a fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment had al­ready been paid, the arch­dio­cese said.

Money to pay the claims will come from var­i­ous sources, in­clud­ing in­sur­ance set­tle­ments worth US$ 11 mil­lion and fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments with the ceme­tery trust fund.

The arch­dio­cese filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in 2011 to ad­dress its sex abuse law­suit li­a­bil­i­ties.

AP

This Jan. 4, 2011 file photo shows Mil­wau­kee Arch­bishop Jerome Lis­tecki at a news con­fer­ence in St. Fran­cis, Wis­con­sin. The Ro­man Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Mil­wau­kee said Tues­day, Aug. 4 that it will pay US$21 mil­lion to more than 300 vic­tims of clergy abuse in a set­tle­ment that would end a four-year bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ing.

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