WI- Victims say bankruptcy plan is “breath-takingly selfish”

For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

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

The Milwaukee archdiocesan Chapter 11 maneuver today is breath-taking in its callousness, selfishness and arrogance. 

Milwaukee Catholic officials have spent more than four times as much money fighting victims in court as they propose paying to victims. For decades, they've hidden and handled heinous crimes against kids quietly and unilaterally. And they're doing so now as they cram this duplicitous scheme down the throats of hundreds of courageous, suffering child sex abuse victims.

Our hearts ache for the 570 men and women who were raped and sodomized as kids by Milwaukee area priests and nuns. At most, if this plan is approved, these brave, deeply wounded victims will get around $6,000 each for having their trust, faith, childhoods and emotional safety brutally stolen from them by child molesting clerics and corrupt church officials and for having the strength to step forward.

As best we can tell, current and former Milwaukee Catholic officials have done virtually nothing to expand the pool of funds that could be used to compensate victims while clearly doing all they can to deceitfully reduce that pool.

(A decade ago, America’s most disgraced Catholic prelate, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, borrowed $25 million to help compensate victims. We've seen no evidence that Archbishop Dolan or Archbishop Listecki has even tried to borrow or raise more funds for this purpose.)

If Listecki were a father of a high school senior, he'd borrow money, get a second job and move heaven and earth to send that kid to college. (We all know that 'where there's a will, there's a way,' especially in the world's largest, richest, oldest and only global monarchy.) But with adults who were sexually assaulted as kids by clerics, he rubs even more salt into already devastating and still infected wounds. 

When it's to their advantage (hiring lobbyists and public relations firms and funding papal visits), bishops pool their resources, talking about “the universal church.” When it's to their advantage – like clergy sex cases – they pretend it's “every man for himself,” claiming “we're a small, independent diocese with limited resources.” 

As one clergy sex abuse victim said “If bishops will lie to you about their predators and your kids, they'll sure lie to you about their vast finances.” 

It's been 11 years since thousands of clergy sex abuse victims began stepping forward following the Boston Globe's investigation. Over the past two months, three more dioceses have sought bankruptcy protection. It's a smart way to continue protecting those who commit and conceal horrific crimes against kids by preventing depositions, discovery and trials. We fear more bishops will now be tempted to exploit this maneuver so they can preserve their reputations and funds.

We hope the Milwaukee archdiocesan plan will be rejected.

(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 25 years and have more than 15,000 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 SNAPnetwork.org) 

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]) Peter Isely, (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Monica Barrett (414-704-6074 or 744-3680, [email protected])

Showing 1 comment

  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2014-02-13 17:21:34 -0600
    In all, the archdiocese said it has spent $6.9 million on its own attorneys during bankruptcy. It estimated its creditors’ attorney costs, which bankruptcy rules require the archdiocese to pay, at nearly $12.5 million. The creditors include hundreds of sexual abuse victims along with others who are owed money.

    And now, the magnanimous Listecki has set aside $4 million for 570+ victims…….Hope he manages personal finances better than he manages the parishioners’ monies…

    With this plan, the archbishop will be revictimizing Milwaukee clergy sexual abuse victims and their families.

    Please note from above that civil attorney Listecki has spent a great deal more money funding — nearly 5 times as much — his fellow attorney professionals for their services than he has set aside for the victims of criminal and evil sexual exploitation.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

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