Clergy abuse victims reject archdiocese compensation plan

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In late fall of 2013, a member of St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic Church headquarters exposed the sexual abuse of children, abuse of vulnerable adults, as well as theft within the church ranks, that had been occurring for decades.

More than 850 child sex abuse claims (some 500 against Minnesota Catholic clergy) were filed in 2016. The scandal, which rocked the Catholic Church in St. Paul and Minneapolis, is now nearing (some sort) of resolution.

In a vote Thursday, 5/11/17, an overwhelming majority of victims of clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis rejected the a compensation plan submitted by the archdiocese in favor a compensation plan submitted by a creditors’ committee.

(Of the 406 victims that voted, according to the attorneys representing them, a resounding 94% favored the plan submitted by the survivors’ committee)

The survivors’ committee plan looks to the archdiocese for an increase in its contributions to the victims’ fund by at least $80 million. Conversely, the archdiocese’ plan is based around a fund of more than $155 million for abuse victims who filed claims in bankruptcy court.

Most of that money would come from insurance payments.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015; under bankruptcy protection law, the archdiocese must pay for its own legal counsel and the attorneys for the victims’ committee as well.

The attorney for the victims, Jeff Anderson said in a press release, “We applaud all the courageous survivors who have come forward to speak their truth. Your voices have been heard.”

But while that might be true, nothing is set in stone. As Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote on the archdiocese website late Thursday, this vote will not decide the final plan:

It is my understanding that the balloting was intended to inform the Bankruptcy Court as to how many creditors consent to confirmation of the proposed Plans… Given that the outcome of the balloting does not necessarily dictate any one particular result, we will continue to look to the Court for guidance as we proceed.

He also applauded/supported the the original plan of the archdiocese, writing,

I believe the Archdiocese’s Plan of Reorganization … provides a fair and just resolution to the bankruptcy. Under our Plan, $155 million will be available to claimants whenever our Plan would be confirmed, without the need for any additional litigation or uncertainty.

And pushed for a quick resolution,

It pains me that the longer this case plays out in court, the greater will be the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred, diminishing settlement funds that would otherwise be available to those who have been harmed.

Which makes sense, considering they’re footing the bill.