Fairbanks Catholic Diocese Seeks Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse

By Mary Beth Smetzer
June 22, 2008

FAIRBANKS — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks is undertaking a massive advertising campaign looking for more potential sexual assault victims as it moves forward in settling abuse claims as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization case in the federal bankruptcy court.

Robert Hannon, special assistant to the Fairbanks bishop, said the diocese is putting notices in newspapers across the state and the Pacific Northwest, including USA Today, and is contracting with some in-state radio and TV stations to run ads.

"Beyond that, we are sending mailings out to all the Native corporations, regional and village, and AC stores and post offices in the diocese," Hannon said. "We are trying to reach out to as many people as possible and working with the court to that end," Hannon said.

The diocese is working with a credit committee that includes representatives of 150 people who have filed claims against the diocese seeking millions of dollars in compensation for alleged sexual abuse by clergy from the 1950s to the 1980s.

In a recently published letter, Bishop Donald Kettler wrote: "Anyone who feels the Church has harmed them in any way, possibly by a clergy member, religious brother or sister or by a volunteer, should read the notice and then fill out a claim form. Also, there are different claim forms for vendors or others who feel the Church may owe them money."

The deadline for making claims, set by the bankruptcy court, is Dec. 2. Forms are available on the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Web site:

"We want to make sure that as many people who have been harmed, come forward now," Hannon said. "When the financial aspects are settled, that is when the real work of healing begins."


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