Survivors, supporters voice concerns over Milwaukee's bankruptcy plan
By Marie Rohde
March 26, 2014
MILWAUKEE-- For 30 years, the Milwaukee archdiocese has provided therapy for the victims of clergy sex abuse. The plan it released as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan is a continuation of that program.
"The protocols have their roots back to Project Benjamin days and have proven to be an effective and responsible way to administer the therapy program which abuse survivors have benefited for decades and which remains a priority for the archdiocese," Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the archbishop, said in an email.
The archdiocese established Project Benjamin in 1989 to deal with the growing sex abuse scandal. While the Milwaukee archdiocese said it served as a template of providing therapy for victims, it fell under heavy criticism by survivors who maintain that any program should not be run by the church.
Survivors of clergy sex abuse and their supporters point out parts of the bankruptcy plan that give the Milwaukee archdiocese unilateral control over how much therapy is provided, who will get it, and which therapists to use, as well as requiring victims to turn over treatment records to the archdiocese. It also provides that the archdiocese can change the plan without court permission or oversight.
"That makes it pretty much not worth the paper it is written on," said Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea, a leading expert on the trauma of childhood sex abuse. "It's like signing a mortgage that says the interest rate and the monthly payment can change at any time at the sole discretion of the bank."
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