(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a $210 million settlement to be dispersed among 450 survivors of alleged clergy abuse as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, an archbishop said.
The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, two years after the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year window that allowed people who said they had been sexually abused in the past to sue for damages, according to official reports. That resulted in hundreds of claims being filed against the archdiocese.
“I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you — our childhood; your safety; your ability to trust; and, in many cases, your faith. Relationships with family and friend relationships in your parishes and communities were harmed. Lives were forever changed. The church let you down. I am very sorry,” Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a news conference Thursday outside archdiocese offices.
In a separate news conference Thursday with some of the people who’ve said they were abused, lawyer Jeff Anderson said a formal reorganization plan will now be submitted to a bankruptcy judge for approval, and then it will be sent to the survivors for a vote. Anderson said he expects them to readily approve it.
The money will go into a trust fund to pay survivors, with the amount for each person to be determined, Anderson said.
Anderson also noted other achievements of the lawsuit. “As a result of these survivors’ courage, there have been 91 clerical offenders in the archdiocese now exposed and listed as credibly accused offenders that had never been listed and exposed before,” Anderson said.
This is the second largest settlement involving the Catholic Church in the United States, after a $660 million settlement reached in 2007 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and 508 people who said they had been abused, according to ABC News Minneapolis affiliate, KTSP-TV.
Fifteen Catholic dioceses or archdioceses across the country have filed for bankruptcy, including three in Minnesota, as they sought to protect themselves from growing allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members, according to official reports.
A fourth Minnesota diocese, St. Cloud, announced its intention to file in February but hasn’t done so.
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