[letter from the bishop]
By Alessandra Malito, NBC News
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, Mont., planned to file for bankruptcy on Friday to pave the way for a $15 million settlement of lawsuits alleging clergy members sexually abused 362 children over five decades, according to a diocese spokesman.
“The settlement here will be as much help financially as we can offer to claimants,” the spokesman, Dan Bartleson, told NBCNews.com. “And the bankruptcy puts us in a place at the diocese where we can care for the Catholics who are currently part of the church.”
The lawsuits, originally filed in 2011, claimed that clergy members had abused children from the 1940s to 1980s and that the diocese knew or should have known what was happening.
“It’s widespread … (and) some of the most horrific abuse we’ve dealt with,” Dan Fasy, an attorney with law firm Kosnoff Fasy, which represents 268 of the 362 claimants, told NBC News.
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