By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Monday, April 14, 2014
People who allege they were sexually abused by priests in the Diocese of Gallup have until Aug. 11 to file claims in the diocese’s bankruptcy case, an Albuquerque judge ordered Friday.
The order, signed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma, also sets out steps the diocese must take – including a multistate advertising campaign – to alert the public about the process for filing claims.
The Diocese of Gallup plans to spend up to $40,000 for newspapers advertisements and 90-second TV and radio spots in a four-state area, the diocese’s lead attorney, Susan Boswell of Tucson, said in a hearing this week.
James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney who represent sexual abuse victims in the case, estimated last week that the diocese currently faces claims from 30 to 35 people who had not reached settlements with the diocese before it filed for bankruptcy last year.
More alleged victims are likely to come forward before the claims deadline expires, he said.
“What I’ve generally seen is that the number has doubled,” said Stang, who has represented abuse victims in bankruptcies filed by six Roman Catholic dioceses.
The number of additional claims filed varies widely from case to case, Stang said. “I think it would be pretty speculative to say how many more will come in,” he said.
In addition to purchasing print and broadcast advertising, the diocese must post notices in 116 Navajo chapter houses, churches throughout the diocese, and other sites.
The notices list a toll-free number where callers can learn more about the confidential claims process.
Also Friday, Stang filed a motion asking Thuma to compel the Roman Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, to turn over financial and insurance records.
Stang said he plans to seek compensation from the Texas diocese for alleged victims of the Rev. Clement Hageman, who died in 1975.
Hageman, who is accused in lawsuits of sexually assaulting at least six boys in the Gallup diocese, had earlier worked in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, where sexual abuse allegations were made against him, according to personnel records made public in other cases.