Settlements and bankruptcies in Catholic sex abuse cases
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (July 2013)
Settlements and bankruptcies in Catholic sex abuse cases have affected several American dioceses, whose compensation payments have totaled in the billions of dollars.
Estimates by Donald Cozzens
According to Donald Cozzens, "by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that... more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees." This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002. Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007.
Payments to victims
|Date||Diocese||Charges made against||Amount||Number of Victims||Comments||Notes|
|1994, May||Lincoln, NE||$40,000||1|
|1997||Dallas, TX||Rudolph Kos||$31 million||Originally $119.6 million via jury award. On appeal reduced.|||
|2003, Jun||Louisville, KY||$25.7 million||240|||
|2003, Sep||Boston, MA||$85 million||552|||
|2004, Jul 6||Portland, OR||$53 million||100 (over)||Filed for bankruptcy, Chapter 11.|
|2004, Sep||Tucson, AZ||$22.2 million||Filed for bankruptcy, after reaching an agreement with its victims|||
|2004, Dec||Spokane, WA||$48 million (at least)||Filed for bankruptcy, payment was a part (has to be approved by judge and victims)|||
|2005, Jan 3||Orange, CA||30 priests, 2 nuns, 11 other||$100 million||87||In 1997, Bishop Tod Brown himself was accused of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy in 1965 as pastor in Bakersfield. Church officials dismissed the claims and he denied the allegation. Eleuterio Ramos 11 cases, Siegfried Widera, who later committed suicide, 9 cases, 25 case uninvolved|||
|2006, Oct 10||Davenport, IA||Lawrence Soens||15||Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, alleged victims were 15 students from 1960s who accused Bishop Soens who denied the accusations.|||
|2006, Dec||Phoenix, AZ||$100,000||1|||
|2006, Dec||Los Angeles, CA||priests||$60 million||45|
|2007||Los Angeles, CA||Father Mark Falvey||$16 million||9||ordered to pay|||
|2007, Jan 15||Charleston, SC||priests||$12 million||many||Bishop Robert J. Baker agreed to pay|||
|2007, Jul 16||Los Angeles, CA||$660 million||508 (over)||Archbishop Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles diocese apologized for abuses by priests describing them as "terrible sin and crime", after settling with over 508 alleged victims|||
|2007, Feb 27||San Diego, CA||Robert Brom||$198.1 million||144||Filed for Chapter 11 protection, hours before the first of about 150 lawsuits about childhood abuse was due to be heard — it became the largest diocese to seek bankruptcy protection.|||
|2008, Mar 7||Fairbanks, AK||130||Filed for bankruptcy due to monetary concerns over 130 lawsuits made by Alaska natives claiming to have been abused by priests, and other church employees|
|2008, May 29||Sacramento, CA||Frs. Arthur & Mark Falvey||$100,000||1||The Jesuit religious order paid $100,000 to a person who alleged he was raped and molested from age 7–11 at St Ignatius Parish, by identical twin brother priests Fr. Arthur Falvey of Sacramento, and Fr. Mark Falvey of Los Angeles|
|2009, Feb||Memphis, TN||Fr Juan Carlos Duran||$2 million||1||Fr. Duran had previous sexual history with minors in St. Louis, Panama and Bolivia|||
|2009, Oct||Savannah, GA||Wayland Brown||$4.24 million||1|||
|2018, Sept||New York, NY||Angelo Serrano||$27.5 million||4||Largest settlement against the Catholic Church and second largest individual sum paid|||
|Total||$1.296 billion||(over) 1,839|
Citing monetary concerns arising from impending trials on sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 6, 2004, hours before two abuse trials were set to begin, becoming the first Roman Catholic diocese to file for bankruptcy. If granted, bankruptcy would mean pending and future lawsuits would be settled in federal bankruptcy court. The archdiocese had settled more than a hundred previous claims for a sum of over $53 million. The filing seeks to protect parish assets, school money and trust funds from abuse victims; the archdiocese's contention is that parish assets are not the archdiocese's assets. Plaintiffs in the cases against the archdiocese have argued that the Catholic Church is a single entity, and that the Vatican should be liable for any damages awarded in judgment of pending sexual abuse cases.
The Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy in September 2004. The diocese reached an agreement with its victims, which the bankruptcy judge approved June 11, 2005, specifying terms that included allowing the diocese reorganization to continue in return for a $22.2 million settlement.
In December 2004, the Diocese of Spokane, Washington agreed to pay at least $48 million as compensation to those abused by priests as part of its bankruptcy filing. This payout has to be agreed upon by victims and another judge.
On October 10, 2006, the Diocese of Davenport filed for Chapter 11 protection. The decision to file for bankruptcy was driven by many claims which focused on Bishop Lawrence Soens, who had been accused of fondling as many as 15 students during his tenure as priest and principal at Regina Catholic High School in Iowa City during the 1960s. Soens denies the allegations. A judge discharged one suit in October 2006.
On February 27, 2007, the Diocese of San Diego filed for Chapter 11 protection, hours before the first of about 150 lawsuits was due to be heard. San Diego became the largest diocese to postpone its legal problems in this way.
On March 7, 2008, the Diocese of Fairbanks filed for bankruptcy after 130 civil suits filed by Alaska natives who claim to be abused by priests, and other church employees, beginning in the 1950s.
Oregon Province of the Jesuits
In February 2009, the Society of Jesus' Oregon Province, which also was based in other states, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as well. The Province agreed in 2011 to pay $166 million to sex abuse victims
Congregation of Christian Brothers (North America)
In 2011, the North American chapter of the Congregation of Christian Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the financial burden caused by sex abuse lawsuits. In 2013, the North American chapter agreed to pay approximately $16.5 million in damages to more than 400 men and women who were sexually or physically abused as children by members of the order. Between 2006 and 2011, the order had also paid approximately 25.6 million to victims in 50 abuse cases.
On January 4, 2011, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced that it would be filing for bankruptcy. The church was facing more than 23 lawsuits, and attempts to reach a mediated settlement with victims failed in December 2010. This came two days before the bishop was scheduled to be deposed about these cases, and after the church had refused to release the names or personnel records of the priests accused. The opposing attorney said that the bankruptcy filing was an attempt to delay turning over church records on the cases.
The Milwaukee archdiocese has already paid out over $29 million to settle 200 cases over the last 20 years. They said that these additional cases would cause hefty legal fees that the archdiocese could not afford. The archdiocese has assets of about $98.4 million, but $90 million of that is restricted for specific uses.
In 2014, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Under the bankruptcy agreement, which received court approval in 2017, a payout of 15 million was given to over two dozen sex abuses.
Ecclesiastical Province of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
- The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on January 17, 2015.
- The Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on December 7, 2015.
- On March 3, 2017, the Diocese of New Ulm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following numerous lawsuits surrounding sex abuse by Catholic clergy in the area. New Ulm follows the Duluth Diocese and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, thus making Minnesota the first state in the United States of America to have three Roman Catholic dioceses file for bankruptcy protection.
- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud announced on February 28, 2018, that it would file for bankruptcy amid claims of sex abuse. The Diocese then filed on March 5, 2019. On May 26, 2020, it was agreed that the Diocese could undergo bankruptcy if $22.5 million was forfeited to compensate 70 sex abuse survivors.
- In November 2018, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester released a statement claiming that the Diocese would soon file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the financial burden caused by ongoing sex abuse lawsuits. The Diocese then officially filed for bankruptcy in December 2018.
Archdiocese of Agaña
On January 15, 2019, it was announced that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agaña in Guam filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the financial burden created by the overwhelming amount of sex abuse lawsuits.
Diocese of Rochester
On September 12, 2019, sex abuse lawsuits forced the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The Diocese is the first Catholic diocese in the state of New York to file for bankruptcy and also the 20th Catholic diocese in the U.S. states to do so as well.
Diocese of Harrisburg
On February 19, 2020, the Diocese of Harrisburg filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after disclosing to federal bankruptcy court it has more than 200 creditors and estimated liabilities between $50 million and $100 million, with assets of less than $10 million. The Harrisburg Diocese was the first Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania to seek bankruptcy protection.
Diocese of Buffalo
Archdiocese of New Orleans
- The Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico filed for bankruptcy protection on November 12, 2013.
- The Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection on January 31, 2014, to resolve more than 362 claims.
- The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017
- In 2017, the Minnesota and Arizona chapters of the order of Crosier Fathers and Brothers, which also serve as major locations for the order's United States chapter, filed for bankruptcy after agreeing to pay sex abuse victims $25.5 million
- The Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced it would file for bankruptcy protection on November 29, 2018, and then did so in June 2019 to resolve 395 cases of sex abuse.
- Sexual abuse cases in catholic church
- Catholic Church sex abuse cases
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- Catholic Church sex abuse cases by country
- Catholic Church sex abuse cases in Australia
- Catholic Church sex abuse cases in Belgium
- Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Canada
- Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Dublin
- Catholic Church sex abuse cases in English Benedictine Congregation
- Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Ireland
- Catholic sexual abuse cases in New Zealand
- Catholic Church sex abuse cases in the United States
- William Kamm, leader of schismatic catholic group convicted for sexual abuse
- Critique & consequences related topics
- Criticism of Pope John Paul II
- Debate on the causes of clerical child abuse
- Ecclesiastical response to Catholic sex abuse cases
- Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders
- Media coverage of Catholic sex abuse cases
- Sex Crimes and the Vatican, BBC documentary
- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, NGO for victims in USA
- Investigation, prevention and victim support related topics
- Broken Rites Australia, support and advocacy group in Australia
- Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, USA
- Essential Norms, USA
- National Review Board, USA
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, UK
- Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Vetican
- Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, peer-reviewed journal on prevention & treatment
- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, USA
- Virtus (program), church initiative in USA
- Vos estis lux mundi, church procedure for abuse vases
- Other related topics
- Child sexual abuse
- Clerical celibacy
- Homosexual clergy in the Catholic Church
- Pontifical secret
- Religious abuse
- Spiritual abuse
- Cozzens, Donald B. (2000). The changing face of the priesthood: A reflection on the priest's crisis of soul. Liturgical Press. p. 125.
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- Smith, Peter (April 4, 2002). "Archdiocese to pay victims $25.7 million for sex abuse". Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky.
- Boston archdiocese agrees to pay a record $85 million to victims of abuse Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine US News and World Report
- Rotstein, Arthur H. (September 21, 2005). "Tucson Diocese emerges from Chapter 11 protection". Associated Press. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- US Church offers abuse settlement BBC NEWS
- "California Diocese Settles Abuse Cases".
- "Orange Diocese to release files in $100 million settlement". The Tidings Online. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Grace, Francis (2004-12-03). "California Diocese Settles Abuse Cases". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Orange County Weekly. Nailed? Bishop Tod Brown and His Undisclosed Molestation Accusation Archived 2008-07-26 at the Wayback Machine April 24, 2007
- "1997 abuse claim named O.C. bishop". Los Angeles Times. September 14, 2007.
- "Iowa Diocese Files For Bankruptcy". CBS News. October 10, 2006.
- "Radio Iowa: Judge throws out Iowa City Regina priest suit". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- "Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Settles Sex-Abuse Claim". Arizona Daily Star. December 27, 2006.
- Spano, John (May 18, 2007). "Jesuits agree to sex case payout". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- "LA cardinal offers abuse apology". BBC News. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- "The San Diego Union-Tribune - San Diego, California & National News". San Diego Union-Tribune.
- SavannahNow.com. Diocese to pay $4M for abuse October 29, 2009
- "Catholic Church Pays Out 'Record Setting Settlement' $27.5 Million to 4 Abused Boys". The Christian Post.
- "Tucson Diocese emerges from Chapter 11 protection".
- "US Church offers abuse settlement". BBC News. January 5, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- "Jesuits' Oregon province files for bankruptcy". National Catholic Reporter. February 23, 2009.
- Denson, Bryan (March 25, 2011). "Northwest Jesuits will pay $166 million to sex abuse victims in bankruptcy settlement". oregonlive.
- Urbina, Ian (October 20, 2009). "Delaware Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake of Abuse Suits". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Myers, Laura L. (April 29, 2011). "Catholic Christian Brothers order files for bankruptcy". Reuters – via www.reuters.com.
- Winter, Michael. "Christian Brothers to pay $16M for abuse of children". USA Today.
- Ramde, Dinesh (January 4, 2011). "Milwaukee archdiocese to seek bankruptcy protection in wake of pending sexual-abuse lawsuits". Minneapolis StarTribune. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
- "Diocese of Stockton (Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton)". www.pszjlaw.com.
- Hopfensperger, Jean (17 Jan 2015). "St. Paul Archdiocese declares bankruptcy, calling it 'fairest' recourse". Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Corrigan, Tom (16 Jan 2015). "Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Files for Bankruptcy". Wall Street Journal.
- Bailey, David (16 Jan 2015). "Minnesota Catholic archdiocese files for bankruptcy protection". Reuters.
- "St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese files for bankruptcy in wake of sex abuse claims". Washington Post. 16 Jan 2015.
- "Diocese of Duluth files for bankruptcy". Duluth News Tribune.
- "St. Cloud Diocese To File For Bankruptcy". February 28, 2018.
- "St. Cloud is 4th Minnesota diocese to declare bankruptcy amid abuse lawsuits". Catholic News Agency.
- "St. Cloud diocese reaches agreement on sex abuse claims". MPR News.
- "Diocese of Winona-Rochester to file for bankruptcy". Winona Daily News.
- Gilbert, Haidee Eugenio. "Guam archdiocese files for bankruptcy to pay off clergy sex abuse claims". USA Today.
- Orr, Steve (September 12, 2019). "Diocese bankruptcy: Matano says it was 'a very difficult and painful decision'". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
- Orr, Steve. "Rochester diocese, facing flood of sex-abuse claims, files for bankruptcy protection". USA Today.
- Scolforo, Mark. "Another Catholic diocese seeks bankruptcy after abuse deals", AP News, Harrisburg, PA, February 19, 2020. Retrieved on March 3, 2020.
- "Catholic Diocese of Buffalo files for bankruptcy, acknowledges over 500 claims of clergy abuse". WGRZ. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
- VARGAS, RAMON ANTONIO. "Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests". NOLA.com.
- Curth, Kimberly. "Attorneys for alleged victims of church sex abuse respond to Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy filing". www.fox8live.com.
- "New Mexico diocese begins bankruptcy process". National Catholic Reporter. November 18, 2013.
- VOLZ, MATT. "Montana Catholic diocese files for bankruptcy protection from abuse claims". missoulian.com. Associated Press.
- "Roman Catholic Bishop of Great Falls-Billings a/k/a Diocese of Great Falls Chapter 11 Filing | District of Montana | United States Bankruptcy Court". www.mtb.uscourts.gov.
- "Decades after abuse, Crosiers agree to $25.5 million settlement with survivors, file bankruptcy". Star Tribune.
- "Case number: 4:17-bk-41681 - Crosier Fathers and Brothers Province, Inc. - Minnesota Bankruptcy Court". www.inforuptcy.com.
- "Archdiocese of Santa Fe to file for bankruptcy". Las Cruces Sun-News.
- "395 claims filed in church bankruptcy case". Crux Now.