WI -- After longest church bankruptcy in US history, Archdiocese of Milwaukee wants to return to square one
Church Lawyers have billed over $20 million dollars, proposed settlement to all 575 victims is half that amount
Who: Survivors of clergy sexual assault by Milwaukee priests and others will be available for comment after a court hearing in the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy.
Where: Bankruptcy Judge Susan V Kelley’s courtroom, Milwaukee Federal Courthouse.
When: Wednesday, March 4, 11:00 a.m.
What: Now the longest church bankruptcy in US history, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will be back in US Federal Court Wednesday arguing that more cases of childhood sexual assault should be tossed without restitution to victims, effectively attempting to return the four year old bankruptcy back to square one.
The archdiocese has filed for ten cases to be dismissed Wednesday that represent various “categories” of victims in the hopes of eventually dismissing all or nearly all of the 575 cases that were filed into court over four years ago.
Although Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerome Listecki, when filing for bankruptcy, made repeated and open declarations that the chapter 11 filing was intended to bring “healing” and “resolution” to survivors of sexual assault and cover up by clergy and others in the archdiocese, since then he has opposed every single case, his lawyers claiming that, in fact, none of the 575 victims have legitimate cases.
Church lawyers’ fees and court costs (which do not include victims’ attorneys who only receive costs with settlements) are now over $20 million dollars. The reorganization plan submitted by the archdiocese to compensate victims and their families is half that total. The average restitution amount per victim proposed by the archdiocese is approximately $6,000, exponentially lower than any bankruptcy church settlement in the US, which has averaged around $350,000 per survivor.
In an unusual move, federal bankruptcy judges in Minneapolis and Gallup, where Catholic dioceses have recently filed for bankruptcy, have openly criticized the Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy, specifically that lawyers’ fees are double that of total victims’ settlements.
Additionally, victims are waiting on a decision from the 7th Circuit Court in Chicago that could overturn Federal Judge Rudolph Randa’s controversial and unprecedented ruling stopping the court from investigation the status of a nearly $60 million dollar cemetery “trust” set up by former Archbishop Timothy Dolan before the archdiocese filed for chapter 11. In documents that surfaced in court, Dolan wrote to the Vatican for permission to set up the trust in order to prevent US courts from compensating victims of priest sexual abuse.
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 18,000 members worldwide. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com
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