Oakland Diocese files bankruptcy over child sex abuse lawsuits

KRON-TV [San Francisco CA]

May 8, 2023

By Ryan Mense

The Diocese of Oakland is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to child sex abuse claims, it announced Monday in a press release. The diocese says it faces more than 330 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse.

According to the release, Catholic schools in operation under the Oakland Diocese are part of separate legal entities and are not included in the bankruptcy filing. Employees and vendors will also be paid as usual with employee benefits continuing uninterrupted, the release continues.

“After careful consideration of the various alternatives for providing just compensation to innocent people who were harmed, we believe this process is the best way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for survivors,” said Bishop Michael C. Barber. “It will also allow RCBO to stabilize its finances and continue the sacred mission entrusted to us by Christ and the Church. Given our current financial resources, RCBO could not shoulder the burden of litigating 330 cases filed under the recent California Assembly Bill 218.”

California Assembly Bill 218 took effect on January 1, 2020, and extends the time period that sex abuse claims can be filed in the state. The Oakland Diocese says that most of the claims stem from allegations of abuse “that occurred in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by priests who are no longer active in ministry and/or deceased.”

The Oakland Diocese joins the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese as the second Bay Area diocese to file for bankruptcy over sexual abuse claims this year.