Victims Group Denied Role in Diocese Case in Tucson

Associated Press, carried in [Tucson AZ]
October 26, 2004

TUCSON - A federal bankruptcy judge denied a request Monday to allow a national advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse to represent future claimants against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

"My answer is 'No way,' " U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar told Barbara Blaine, national president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

The judge held a hearing Monday to discuss the appointment of lawyers to represent various present and potential claimants in the diocese's bankruptcy reorganization. advertisement The judge set a hearing for next week to settle the appointment of lawyers on behalf of those currently identified victims, minors who were victimized and future, still unknown claimants.

Marlar also planned to approve a plan on Nov. 3 for public-notice advertising in English- and Spanish-language publications to tell other clergy sex-abuse victims how they can file claims against the diocese.

On Sept. 20, the Tucson diocese became the second in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection, following the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore. Both sought Chapter 11 protection in the face of continuing litigation in clerical sex-abuse cases.

The Tucson Diocese listed assets of $16.6 million and debts of $20.7 million.

It settled 11 abuse lawsuits filed by 16 plaintiffs for more than $10 million two years ago. After efforts to settle 22 new molestation cases involving 34 plaintiffs failed, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas opted for bankruptcy protection.

Alisa Lacey, one of two proposed lawyers for the victims, said 44 to 60 claimants have been made known at this point.

Earlier this month, the judge set an April 15 deadline for victims of diocesan sexual abuse to come forward with claims, with the exception of those with repressed memory.

On Monday, Susan Boswell, the diocese's chief bankruptcy lawyer, described a plan to publish an ad for two consecutive Sundays or weekends

Blaine, of Chicago, an attorney without standing in the bankruptcy case, wrote Marlar asking that one of SNAP's members represent future claimants.

The judge said whoever is appointed would be "totally impartial." Having someone from SNAP "just wouldn't cut it," he said.


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