Dioceses have gone bankrupt after opening window to sex abuse lawsuits

Tribune Review

December 29, 2018

By Aaron Aupperlee

Like dominoes falling one after another, dioceses across Minnesota declared bankruptcy in the wake of the state passing a law that gave victims of sexual assault a three-year window to file civil lawsuits regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Five of the six Catholic dioceses in Minnesota, home to about 1.2 million Catholics, have turned to Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection to settle hundreds of claims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

The bankruptcies will allow the dioceses to settle mounting claims of sexual abuse without going before a jury, but victims will often receive a fraction of what juries might award and strip them of their day in court.

Bankruptcies don’t wipe out dioceses. They don’t dissolve them. They don’t disappear. Dioceses file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reorganize and emerge as leaner operations.

The bankruptcies set up funds to pay victims who have filed claims of sexual abuse against the dioceses. Those victims are paid, along with other creditors who claim the diocese owes them money.

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