Decades of abuse: Catholic church will name 50+ priests who abused 100s of children in western MT
By Mike Dennison
Editor’s note: This story is the first of a two-day series on the aftermath of the proposed bankruptcy settlement of sex-abuse cases against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena
HELENA — Most of the 362 sex-abuse victims who sued the Catholic church of western Montana, saying they were abused years ago by priests and nuns, will get monetary damages from a settlement with the church.
But they’ll see something else they consider vitally important, their lawyers say: Public identification of their abusers.
“They wanted their abusers to be publicly identified and for the Diocese to accept responsibility,” says Tim Kosnoff, a Seattle attorney who co-represents 271 of the plaintiffs in two lawsuits. “By that aspect, I think we’ve succeeded.”
Kosnoff and other attorneys who worked on the cases say more than 50 Roman Catholic priests will be named as sexual abusers of children.
Once the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Butte approves the settlement, the names of the abusers will be posted on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena’s website.
Most, if not all, of these priests are dead, attorneys for the plaintiffs say. The bulk of the abuse occurred from the 1940s through the 1970s, although some happened as far back as the 1930s. …
Status of sex-abuse suits against Catholic entities
HELENA – Roman Catholic churches and entities in Montana are dealing with three separate lawsuits accusing church clergy and personnel of sexually abusing children within the church.
Here is the status of these cases:
Helena Diocese cases: On Jan. 31, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, which covers all or part of 23 western Montana counties, filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a negotiated settlement with 362 plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed in Montana state District Court in 2011.
The Diocese of Helena and its insurers have agreed to pay $15 million in damages to the victims and set aside at least another $2.5 million for victims that may come forward in the future.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Butte, with input from church creditors and the plaintiffs, must approve the settlement before it can take effect. Creditors and plaintiffs will vote within the coming months on the settlement.
Ursuline Academy case: One of the lawsuits against the Helena Diocese includes 95 of the 362 plaintiffs and also alleges that nuns at the now-defunct Ursuline Academy at St. Ignatius abused dozens of Native American children.
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