Wednesday, February 28, 2007

San Diego diocese files Chapter 11

Allison Hoffman of the Associated Press reports at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the diocese filed and five minutes to midnight yesterday. It was scheduled to go to trial today in one of 140 pending cases alleging sexual abuse by priests.
In a letter [2 pp. pdf] posted on the diocese's Web site, Bishop Robert H. Brom said the diocese made its decision because any damage awards in the earlier trials could deplete "diocesan and insurance resources" and leave nothing for other victims.

That does not actually explain the timing. The diocese could go through trial and, if the trial resulted in a judgment against it, file for bankruptcy then. Hence, others offer alternative explanations.
"For three years they've told people they want to settle, they want to be transparent," said John Manly, a lawyer for a plaintiff whose lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in April, "but the moment it became clear the truth will come out through a jury trial, they sought to shut down victims' ability to get compensated and get out the truth."

San Diego is the fifth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy.

Update: Commentary at Shark and Shepherd.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:54 PM

    From Murphy's LAw - Milwaukee Magazine

    More Catholic Cover-ups?

    Two weeks ago, I wrote about this state’s lax response to sexual abuse by clergy.

    Victims of a priest like Siegfried Widera, who abused children in both this state and California, were able to gain financial settlements in California, but nothing in Wisconsin. For that reason, church documents related to Widera were legally available in California, including many that detailed how the Milwaukee archdiocese had handled him.

    Meanwhile, none of the documents related to Franklyn Becker – another priest who was transferred to California after reports that he had assaulted children in Milwaukee – have been made public. Peter Isely, Midwest Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, calls the Becker files “a much more significant cache of documents from the California settlements.”

    Isely has urged the Journal Sentinel to petition the California Superior Court for these records. Because Becker transferred back to Milwaukee after his years in California, Isely argues, “the handling of this abusive priest implicates every bishop Becker worked under over a period of three decades” in Milwaukee. The archdiocese, Isley wrote the JS, “appears to be moving today to get these incriminating documents sealed.”