Clergy abuse survivors closer to compensation
By Clay Schuldt
January 03, 2020
Survivors from the clergy sexual abuse are a step closer to receiving compensation from the New Ulm Diocese.
On Dec. 20, the U.S. bankruptcy court approved the disclosure statement and joint Chapter 11 plan of reorganization filed by the Diocese of New Ulm and the Committee of Unsecured Creditors.
The reorganization plan provides the means for settling and paying all claims against the diocese related to sexual abuse and misconduct by establishing a trust.
This trust will be funded by contributions from the diocese, parishes and settling insurers. The trustee will liquidate the trust assets and fairly distribute the proceeds to the survivors.
In May 2013, the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Minnesota Child Victims’ Act (CVA). CVA altered, expanded and eliminated certain statutes of limitation to civil cases involving sexual abuse. The CVA allowed victims who were sexually abused when they were younger than 18 to bring a civil lawsuit for damages regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
The CVA also provided a three-year window during which victims whose claims were time-barred by the previous statute of limitations could bring a civil suit against alleged abusers and the diocese and parishes. This window expired on May 25, 2016.
The CVA allowed a significant number of civil claims against the diocese related to clergy misconduct spanning more than half of a century.
During the three-year window provided by the CVA, 101 pending civil actions were commenced against the diocese and 28 parishes were named as co-defendants in one or more cases.
The diocese filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in March 2017. The reorganization ensures every survivor receives fair compensation. In June 2019, the diocese reached a $34 million settlement in its bankruptcy case.
Before the trust is established, all parties with an abuse claim must vote to approve the reorganization plan. A two-thirds majority of claimants needs to approve the plan. The deadline for the claimant to vote is Feb. 19.
The bankruptcy judge will hold a hearing on March 10 at the Brown County Courthouse in New Ulm to determine if the diocese has met all requirements of the bankruptcy code. If the requirements have been met, the judge will then issue an order confirming the plan.
The disclosure statement, plan of reorganization and additional related documents are posted on the reorganization pages of the diocesan website at https://hopehealin gandpeace-dnu.org.
In a statement, Bishop John M. LeVoir asked local Catholics to join him in prayer for a fair resolution to sexual abuse claims and the healing of those abused.