Montana diocese to file bankruptcy protection amid sex abuse lawsuits

The Guardian (UK)

Associated Press in Helena, Friday 31 January 2014

The Roman Catholic diocese of Helena planned to file 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 the Chapter 11 bankruptcy re-organization will be filed Friday morning, and comes 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 US Bankruptcy Court in Montana would be responsible for approving and supervising the disbursement of $15m to compensate the identified victims, plus an additional amount set aside for those who come forward later.

The victims and creditors will have the chance to vote on the proposed settlement, Bartleson said.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys said they planned to release a statement later Friday.

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