NEW CASTLE (PA)
New Castle Times
February 22, 2020
By John Finnerty
While the move by the Harrisburg Catholic Diocese to declare bankruptcy puts the brakes on civil lawsuits, it opens the door for other victims to seek compensation regardless of the state’s statute of limitations.
The diocese has already paid out almost $13 million to 111 victims of child sexual abuse, but officials on Wednesday said church officials believe there may be another 200 victims who could seek compensation through the bankruptcy proceeding.
Since the intent of the bankruptcy is to resolve all possible claims, it’s likely that the proceeding will allow victims to seek compensation even if the state doesn’t open a window to allow lawsuits for victims whose cases are beyond the state’s statute of limitations, said Richard Serbin, an attorney who has represented victims in several high-profile church abuse cases.
“Victims will be compensated,” said Serbin. “The question is: ‘How much?’”
The diocese told the court it has estimated its potential liabilities between $50 million and $100 million, with assets of less than $10 million. It listed creditors that include a $30 million loan from the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority and 12 blacked-out names that were represented by lawyers.
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