Judge rules assets at risk in Harrisburg Diocese Bankruptcy Proceedings


A federal judge found sufficient claims of fraud allegations exist against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and ruled that attorneys representing sexual abuse survivors can seek a judgment to have an estimated $95 million in assets the Diocese transferred behind two different trusts moved to its bankruptcy estate.

Sources close to the bankruptcy proceedings explained that the Judge’s ruling essentially is telling plaintiff attorneys that the gate is now open to explore what is believed to be alleged fraud.

We applaud Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry W. Van Eck for this ruling and hope that continued pressure will mount on the Diocese of Harrisburg to do what is right for victims of clergy abuse, transparency, accountability, and reparation.

In a grand jury report unsealed in 2018, 45 officials with the Harrisburg Diocese were identified as alleged abusers. Many were included in a church-issued report released two weeks prior naming 71 priests and seminarians accused in church records of sexual misconduct with children dating to the 1940s. The Harrisburg Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 19, 2020. It opened the trusts on Nov. 13, 2009, as allegations mounted around widespread sex abuse nationwide within the Catholic Church, court records show.

In our view, an entity that is claiming poverty and applying for bankruptcy protection should not be able to also hide its possessions and financial records from the public. If an organization, institution, or business is truly indigent and unable to pay its creditors, that should be easy enough to prove to the community.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected]267) 261-0578 ), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President L ([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)

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