Forward Motions: Helena Diocese Seeks Approval of Abuse Victim Compensation Plan

Wall Street Journal

Feb 27, 2015


On Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena will seek a bankruptcy judge’s permission to proceed with a plan to pay $16.4 million to compensate hundreds of people who allege they were sexually abused by the diocese’s clergy.

The plan, which was largely put in place during mediation that preceded the Montana diocese’s bankruptcy filing in January 2014, calls for about 360 victims to receive a minimum payment of $2,500 each. An abuse-claims reviewer will determine the actual payment based on the severity and long-term effects of the abuse. Any future abuse claims also will be paid out of the trust.

If approved by Judge Terry Myers, the diocese’s insurance companies would contribute $14.4 million to the trust, and the diocese itself would contribute $2 million.

The plan also includes another $4.45 million from the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province to settle a lawsuit filed by 45 Native Americans who alleged they were abused at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius.

In total, 11 other Catholic dioceses have turned to chapter 11 to address waves of litigation related to alleged sexual abuse by priests and others, the vast majority of which allegedly took place decades ago.

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