Diocese of Harrisburg reaches an agreement in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
(For Immediate Release August 5, 2022)
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and the Tort Claimants Committee for Sexual Abuse Survivors struck an agreement to possibly resolve the Diocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring lawsuit. The Diocese hailed the proposed plan's child safety measures as "the most thorough and in-depth child protection protocols of any Diocese in the United States" in a statement. Once finalized, the deal will be filed to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for approval "as soon as practicable."
The diocese issued this in a statement, ‘The agreement between the Diocese and the Committee will be incorporated into a plan of reorganization and that plan will be voted upon and submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval. Of greatest importance, the plan will seek to establish the most comprehensive and in-depth child protection protocols of any Diocese in the United States.’
In addition to the above, the RCDH and related entities will establish a Survivor Compensation Trust and provide funding to the trust in an amount equal to $7.5 million to provide financial restitution for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The Survivor Compensation Trust may also be funded through additional settlements with the RCDH’s current and legacy insurance carriers. The details of this settlement will be embodied in the joint plan of reorganization referenced above, which will be co-drafted by the RCDH and the Committee and filed with the Bankruptcy Court as soon as possible. Once established, a Trust administrator, and not the Diocese, will determine compensation amounts and claim eligibility for abuse survivors.
We thank the survivors of sexual assault from the Diocese of Harrisburg for standing out for their rights and the rights of other victims. Given the church's wealth, it is a drop in the bucket in the overall scheme of things. No amount of money will compensate for the lifetime of pain caused by sexual assault. Furthermore, we know that these approaches are intended to maintain the impression of assistance for survivors, but no actual action has been taken by church leaders to ensure justice for victims.
If Harrisburg church authorities want to assist survivors and establish safer settings within their congregations, they must be open and honest with their congregations. They should promptly update their list of abusers to incorporate the new names discovered during the bankruptcy process, and then utilize every resource available to guarantee parishioners and parents that children and adults are safe. Similarly, they should be turning over all information regarding sex crimes, regardless of the status of the abuser, to local law enforcement.
We know that no institution can police itself and so we hope that police and prosecutors in Pennsylvania are looking long and hard to find creative pathways toward justice for survivors and to prevent more cases of abuse in the future. A critical step in preventing abuse is ensuring that those who covered up and enabled abuse are prosecuted.
CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267) 261-0578 ), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386 ), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)