Sacramento Catholic bishop will file for bankruptcy on April 1; to SNAP this is no joke

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2024

This weekend, parishioners in the Diocese of Sacramento learned that their bishop would file for bankruptcy on April 1st.  SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sadly acknowledges that this is no joke, and again urges Bishop Jaime Soto to reconsider this scorched earth legal tactic.

Bankruptcy is not the only way to achieve fair recoverys in all of the lawsuits against the Diocese. In the last window, universal agreements were reached between the Church and survivors and their attorneys, without the draconian consequences that bankruptcy will bring along with it.

In a bankruptcy, those who have filed lawsuits become “creditors.” The court will allow a certain period of time for other “creditors” – victims -- to come forward. However, once the bankruptcy proceeds to its conclusion, anyone abused before the filing date who did not come forward is barred from ever filing a lawsuit. This would include those who do not remember their abuse, those who do not understand the impact it has had on their life, those who are not yet ready to speak out, and – most disturbingly -- those children who are too young to understand that they needed to file a claim before the bar date.

California recently adopted a law completely removing the civil statute of limitations for child sex crimes going forward. Sadly, for those survivors abused in Catholic dioceses that see a bankruptcy to completion, the legislative intent of this reform -- to allow just compensation for life-long injuries and to learn who the perpetrators, and those who protected them, are  -- will be thwarted for decades.

Protecting other boys and girls from being abused, and learning who made the decisions that resulted in a child predator working in their parish or school is important to survivors. However, the bankruptcy courts do not normally concern themselves with either issue. We are concerned that important information will remain hidden from parishioners and the public because of this bankruptcy. We believe that churches and communities are less safe when information about child predators remains secret.

According to Bishop Soto’s list, there have been 68 abusers in the Diocese of Sacramento. SNAP’s list, compiled from publicly available information, including the lawsuits filed in the recent window, contains 195 names. The fact that SNAP’s list is nearly three times the Bishop’s list is already a cause for concern. The information that will be hidden when more recent victims in the Diocese are barred from filing civil actions should be a cause for public alarm.

This bankruptcy will have many advantages for Bishop Soto. For those who suffered from child sex crimes committed in his Diocese, there is no upside to this cruel and, in our opinion, unjustified legal tactic. SNAP believes that children, not secrets and assets, are what need to be protected.

CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento Area Leader, ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Dan McNevin, SNAP Board of Directors Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP Northern California ([email protected], 925-262-3699), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board of Directors President ([email protected], 814- 341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant