By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press
Updated 7:38 am, Friday, January 31, 2014
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection Friday in advance of proposed settlements for two lawsuits that claim clergy members sexually abused 362 people over decades and the church covered it up.
Diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson said in a statement Friday the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization case came after confidential mediation sessions with the plaintiffs’ attorneys, resulting in the deals to resolve the abuse claims.
The settlement details are being worked out, but the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana would be responsible for approving and supervising the disbursement of $15 million to compensate the identified victims, plus an additional amount set aside for those who come forward later.
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