Ore. Archdiocese Offers Bankruptcy Plan

By William McCall
San Francisco Chronicle
December 19, 2006

(12-19) 16:08 PST Portland, Ore. (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland has filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan that would pay about $75 million to settle nearly 170 claims of priest sex abuse.

Insurance companies have agreed to pay nearly $52 million under the proposal, with the rest of the money coming from various archdiocese assets — but not its parishes and schools.

The reorganization plan, filed just before midnight Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said that 143 claims had been settled for $40.7 million.

It would require the archdiocese to provide as much as $13.75 million to pay 26 claims that have not yet been settled. It also would set up a $20 million fund to pay future claims.

The plan was announced last week by U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan and Lane County Circuit Judge Lyle Velure, who had been acting as mediators in the case. The two judges had said insurance would pay roughly the amount indicated in the reorganization plan, but they did not say how much the archdiocese would add.

The plan must be approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, along with creditors of the archdiocese — including the accusers.

The archdiocese was the first in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection, in July 2004, just as a $135 million priest-abuse lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial.

Hogan confirmed that case was among those settled. Attorneys and parties involved in the bankruptcy are still subject to a strict gag order Hogan imposed until the plan is approved, which is not expected until late spring.

Since the Portland archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, dioceses in Tucson, Ariz.; Spokane, Wash.; and Davenport, Iowa, have followed. The Tucson diocese has emerged from its bankruptcy.

The Portland reorganization plan comes on the heels of a $60 million agreement announced Dec. 1 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to settle 45 sex abuse claims.

Other large settlements include $100 million paid to 87 claimants last year by the Diocese of Orange in Orange County, Calif., and $85 million paid to 552 claimants in 2003 by the Archdiocese of Boston.


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