DIOCESE OF STOCKTON
By Rose Albano Risso
September 18, 2014
The Diocese of Stockton received 34 claims of sexual abuse in the three months prior to the Aug. 15 submission deadline related to the filing of bankruptcy protection by the diocese.
The Chapter 11 reorganization process is continuing right on schedule, said Sr. Terry Davis, Director of Communications for the Diocese, in a statement sent out to media outlets. The nearly three-dozen abuse claims that were filed do not identify any priest currently in active ministry, she reported.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was described by Bishop Stephen Blaire earlier this year as “the only way we can fulfill our responsibilities to the victims of sexual abuse and our responsibilities to the parishes and communities we served.” It was a “painful but necessary decision,” he added, and that it came only after months of “careful consideration, consultation and prayer.”
The key to the bankruptcy proceeding is to determine exactly what claims the Diocese will face which will enable the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California to distribute the remaining assets of the diocese as fairly as possible, explained Davis at that time.
As part of the court requirement, the diocese pulled advertisements in more than 24 local regional newspapers including one in USA Today in an effort to inform potential claimants of the legally mandated filing deadline. Notices also were mailed to all parish households and parish school mailing lists which included St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca, St. Patrick’s Parish in Ripon, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lathrop.
Not affected in the bankruptcy filing are parishes in the diocese, parochial schools such as St. Anthony of Padua School in Manteca, Catholic cemeteries, and the Madonna of Peace Retreat Center in Copperopolis because these are separate corporations. Church pastors in the diocese, however, were advised to secure independent legal assistance to prepare themselves of any potential legal challenges in light of what happened to other dioceses in the country where creditors have challenged the status of the legal filings.
Now that the deadline for the sexual abuse filing is closed, the next step in the bankruptcy protection process will be the evaluation of the submitted claims by a court-appointed committee of creditors and the diocese.
All information about the 34 sexual abuse claims filed is confidential.
While the reorganization process is ongoing, the diocese will continue the ministries and services it is providing to local communities.
“We anticipate the parties will return to mediation sometime later this year,” Sr. Davis stated in the notice to the news media.
In the meantime, continued updates about the entire process will be available to the public via the following website: http://www.kccllc.net/stocktondiocese. Click court proceedings in the upper left corner to view all of the documents filed with the court.