Church Sex Abuse Victims to Get Checks from Diocese

By Erin Jordan
Des Moines Register

October 6, 2008

People who were sexually abused by clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Davenport will start getting checks next month as part of a $37 million bankruptcy settlement, an attorney for the victims said.

Letters went out Sept. 26 to more than 150 victims specifying the amount of money each would receive in a preliminary payment, said Craig Levien, a Davenport attorney representing victims, and Mike Uhde, a Davenport victim. Checks are expected to be issued in early November.

The Davenport Diocese was the fourth diocese in the United States to go to bankruptcy court to protect its church assets from sex abuse lawsuits.

The preliminary payment will not include proceeds from the diocese’s headquarters, which has not yet been sold, Levien and Uhde said.

The settlement trustee is also attempting to recover more than $500,000 in payments the diocese made in the months prior to filing for bankruptcy in October 2006.

Uhde described these payments as an attempt to dump assets before filing for bankruptcy. “They spent every penny of cash they had in the days leading up to the bankruptcy,” he said.

The diocese said Monday the majority of the payments were special collections parishes took up for various Catholic charities. The diocese passed the donations on to the organizations, spokesman Davod Montgomery said.

“The process of recovering ‘avoidance actions’ is a normal part of the bankruptcy process and it does not mean that there was anything wrong, underhanded or fraudulent with the making of any particular payments,” Montgomery said.

A federal bankruptcy judge in May approved a plan for the diocese.



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