By MATT VOLZ Associated Press
HELENA – A federal judge ruled that 95 people can pursue sex abuse claims in state court against an order of nuns during bankruptcy proceedings involving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena.
The Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province aren’t covered by an automatic stay in civil proceedings that was granted to the diocese when it filed for Chapter 11 protection, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers said in a Friday order.
A combined 362 plaintiffs filed two lawsuits claiming abuse by the diocese and the Ursulines between the 1940s and 1970s, when the plaintiffs were children.
The lawsuit against the order alleges that nuns and priests at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius abused dozens of Native American children. The diocese is accused of covering up widespread abuse across its territory.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a settlement with most of the plaintiffs, which prompted the automatic stay in state court.
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