WI--Milwaukee Archdiocese threatens to deplete remaining funds on litigation before compensating victims
Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)
Whatever the outcome of today’s offer by Federal Judge Lynn Adelman to intervene in the four year old Milwaukee Archdiocese Bankruptcy to resolve the issue of former Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s $57 million dollar fraudulently constituted “cemetery trust”, it is yet another unmistakable sign that something has gone terribly wrong or is terribly broken with a court system that allows church lawyers to walk away with millions of dollars in billable hours, leave apparently uninvestigated and unreported dozens of never before identified alleged sex offenders, and keeps under wraps documents and details about how the now most powerful Catholic Prelate in the United States colluded with the Vatican to keep US courts from compensating victims of clergy sex crimes.
Maybe that is why lead church bankruptcy lawyer Frank LoCoco could so cynically and confidently stand up in open court last week to proclaim that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is more than prepared to spend all its remaining resources--not on healing victims of childhood sexual assault committed by priests and covered up by their senior management--but litigating until there is simply no money left for victims and their families.
“Let's spend the money,” LoCoco said last Thursday in Judge Susan V Kelley’s courtroom, “Let's litigate the cemetery trust [issue] completely. Candidly, at that point it becomes cheaper, more efficient and easier to us to litigate every abuse survivor claim. ... [Do] they want us to start sending dozens and dozens of notices to every single abuse survivor and their family members and their doctors?" Notice the not so thinly veiled threat to victims’ privacy in the last sentence.
LoCoco, comically and clumsily, later tried to explain his comments by arguing that it was survivors and creditors who were “making” the archdiocese spend money on litigation. In other words: “It’s the victims fault that I am becoming rich.” Why would survivors or creditors possibly want money to go into LoCoco’s pockets and not into the hands of those harmed as children?
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, himself a lawyer, who has several times spoken of his special bond and sympathy for the law profession, has shown little or none for survivors of priest sex abuse. Maybe that is why, all the funds so far have pretty much gone to church lawyers and court costs, a total nearing $20 million, and none so far to a single victim. In fact, Listecki’s total offer to the nearly 600 victims that filed cases into court is $4 million dollars, or three times lower than for lawyers and others. And just to get this clear: victim attorneys are not part of these costs since they receive a contingency payment only when the cases are resolved.
But there are other costs. Over half the graduating class of Le Moyne College, a renowned Jesuit institution in Syracuse, have signed a petition asking that Cardinal Dolan not be allowed to deliver their commencement address specifically because of his involvement in covering up for abusive priests in Milwaukee, and that number of student signatories is rising. And, if you look at the stunning news video this last Palm Sunday, a day that once was standing room only at the Milwaukee Cathedral, you can see how much the church has really paid.
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