MN--Victims to bishop: Don’t appeal $8 million abuse verdict

For immediate release: Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those abused by Priests (314 566 9790[email protected])

We fear that Duluth’s bishop will appeal an $8 million jury verdict or use it to justify seeking bankruptcy protection. We hope he’ll do neither. Both are irresponsible.

A Pennsylvania bishop once appealed a jury verdict for an abuse victim for more than a dozen years. Instead of paying the original $1.5 million, the diocese ultimately paid $2.569 million 

More recently, an Illinois bishop appealed a $5 million jury verdict for years, and ended up paying $ 6.3 million (because of the interest that had accrued).

Appeals like this are mean-spirited and often financially dumb. They delay long-deserved healing for everyone involved. 

We also fear that Bishop Paul Sirba will also now claim “We must seek Chapter 11 protection.” We hope this doesn’t happen.

Bishops declare bankruptcy for selfish reasons, not financial ones. They want to keep their reputations, not their assets. They want to keep their cover ups covered up. Bankruptcy brings an abrupt halt to disclosures about which clerics committed and concealed child sex crimes.

That’s a self-serving strategy for a prelate. It’s a hurtful strategy for parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners, the public and of course victims. It’s morally wrong.

Two months ago, during his US visit, Pope Francis made strong promises, including that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer,” “all responsible will be held accountable," and that church officials will provide "careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”

This brave victim and this wise jury have done this. Duluth’s bishop shouldn’t try to reverse this progress.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. 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. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected][email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747[email protected]), Frank Meuers of Plymouth MN, SNAP director Southern Minnesota (952-334-5180,[email protected]), Verne Wagner of Duluth, SNAP director Northern Minnesota (218-340-1277[email protected])

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