Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy: Creditors Committee launches website with information for clergy abuse survivors

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

January 3, 2024

By Alex Mann

The committee tasked with representing survivors of clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s bankruptcy case launched a website Wednesday to provide information about the process.

According to the website, survivors can expect to see a news feed with case updates, an overview of the bankruptcy process, a page with “frequently asked questions” and an inventory of resources for survivors.

“Communication is vital,” said Paul Jan Zdunek, chair of the committee of seven survivors tasked with representing the rest, in an email. “As representatives of all survivors, the Creditors Committee wants to make sure there is a flow of information to all survivors during this lengthy and complicated bankruptcy process.”

Describing the website as a “first step in the Committee communication with survivors,” Zdunek added that the committee may put on “town halls or other in-person or virtual meetings.”

The website’s launch comes during a pivotal stage of the bankruptcy proceeding, with the deadline recently set as May 31 for survivors to file proof of claims of sexual abuse by archdiocese personnel. Known as a “claims bar date,” the deadline effectively acts as a statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits against the archdiocese.

Attorneys in the case still are finalizing plans to get word out about the deadline through advertisements and other means.

Baltimore’s archdiocese, America’s oldest, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 29, two days before the effective date of Maryland’s landmark Child Victims Act, which lifted the statute of limitations for civil actions alleging sex abuse against minors. The law was welcomed as a victory for survivors, who overcame the church’s longtime lobbying effort against such legislation.

The Catholic archdiocese filed for bankruptcy with hopes of limiting its liability against potential damages and to protect its millions of dollars in assets. By declaring bankruptcy, the archdiocese limited the window for sex abuse lawsuits and funneled those claims through federal bankruptcy court rather than state court.

At the time it filed for bankruptcy, the church listed some $204 million in assets.