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US church archdiocese to pay 450 sex abuse survivors 210 million dollars

Fri 01 Jun 2018
By Press Association

The Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis has agreed a 210 million US dollar (£158 million) settlement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse, a lawyer says.

It is part of its plan for bankruptcy reorganisation, he said.

Victims' lawyer Jeff Anderson said the settlement was reached with the survivors and the archdiocese and includes accountability measures.

 

The Minnesota Legislature in 2013 opened a three-year window in the statute of limitations that allowed people who had been sexually abused in the past to sue for damages.

That resulted in hundreds of claims being filed against the archdiocese and led it to file for bankruptcy in 2015.

The bankruptcy case proceeded slowly as lawyers argued over how much the archdiocese should have to pay.

It reported its net worth was 45 million dollars (£34 million).

But lawyers for the victims maintained that the archdiocese's true worth was over a billion, counting assets of its 187 Roman Catholic parishes, as well as schools, cemeteries and other church-related entities.

Wikimedia Commons/Vasanth Rajkumar

 

The lawyers said those assets should be used to make more money available for victims.

Last month, a federal appeals court affirmed a 2016 decision by US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel that the parishes and other nonprofit entities were independent, meaning their assets could not be counted in the bankruptcy case.

Last December, Judge Kressel rejected competing reorganisation plans filed by the archdiocese and a creditors' committee and ordered both sides back into mediation.

At least 15 Catholic dioceses or archdioceses across the country have filed for bankruptcy, including three in Minnesota, as they sought to protect themselves from growing claims of sexual abuse by clergy members.

A fourth Minnesota diocese, St Cloud, announced its intention to file in February.

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