Bishop Accountability
  Davenport Diocese Cuts Staff after Judge's Ruling

Associated Press, carried by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
October 23, 2004

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport said he would severely cut staff at the diocese headquarters after a judge made a key ruling against the diocese.

"Two years ago, there were 44 members of the pastoral center staff," Bishop William E. Franklin said in a statement Friday. "In anticipation of a staff reduction, a few members of my staff have submitted resignations in the past weeks. I have made the difficult decision to further reduce my staff to 18. This staff reduction began today and will continue in the next few months."

District Judge C.H. Pelton on Thursday rejected the diocese's request to delay a Nov. 1 trial in the first of several lawsuits dealing with sexual abuse allegations dating back to the 1950s.

The diocese had pleaded for one more month to negotiate with its insurance company and lawyers for 38 men who say they were abused by priests when they were minors.

But Pelton, in a six-page ruling, said church officials did not have a solid reason for asking for more time in the case, which was filed almost a year and a half ago.

Franklin said that unemployment insurance is not available to church employees under Iowa law.

"At this time, I am doing what I can to help terminated staff make a transition into other employment with the least disruption to their lives as possible," Franklin said.

He said he had begun a search to relocate the pastoral center.

Church officials say they have ruled out going to trial but don't want the settlement with victims to exhaust their assets, limiting payments to those who may step forward in a second wave of claims.

Without time to work out a more favorable settlement, Franklin has said the only option would be to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


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