Davenport Diocese to Sell Its Property
After Filing for Bankruptcy, It Is Liquidating Its Assets to Pay Claims of Sexual Abuse by Its Priests

Associated Press, carried in Des Moines Register
December 11, 2006

Davenport, Ia. - The Davenport Diocese is selling its headquarters and the home of its new bishop to raise money for victims of sexual abuse.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in October as protection against dozens of claims of sexual abuse by its priests. Now it's liquidating its assets to pay those victims.

"This is a first step," said Richard Davidson, the diocese's bankruptcy attorney with the Lane & Waterman law firm.

St. Vincent's Pastoral Center and three homes were part of a sales plan discussed this month by diocese officials, Davidson said.

The most expensive property is the tree-filled St. Vincent's, valued at $4.1 million. The other properties include a home built in 1820 that includes 25.5 acres, valued at $110,630. Another home, built in 1900, is valued at $81,740.

The bishop's home is a brick duplex valued at $196,260.

"I knew this was much more space than I needed," Bishop Martin Amos wrote Friday in an e-mail to the Quad-City Times. "I've asked that rather than try to purchase back this property, we look for something smaller as the bishop's residence."

Amos could live close to his office in a "fixer-upper" home, a place where he would put his carpentry skills to use. "It's just less for him to take care of," Davidson said, noting that the bishop has no housekeeping staff.

The diocese plans to work with three real estate firms to sell the properties.

The diocese headquarters may be the most emotional sale. One building formerly was an orphanage operated by the Sisters of Humility congregation, said Char Maaske, chief financial officer of the diocese. It also includes apartments for retired priests.

"This place is a good situation for us, but under the terms of the bankruptcy, it will sell to the highest bidder," Maaske said.

How best to liquidate the center is still under discussion, but the real estate listing is the method preferred by Judge Lee Jackwig, Davidson said.

"She likes cases to be handled expeditiously and it's not just with this one," he said. "It's been two months now and we need to keep moving along."

The diocese is the fourth in the nation to seek financial protection to deal with priest sex abuse cases. Since 2004, the diocese has paid more than $10.5 million to resolve dozens of claims filed against priests.


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