$210M Settlement Reached with Clergy Abuse Survivors

“It’s a triumph!”

Edgar Linares
May 31, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Courtesy of Anderson Advocates

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Clergy abuse victims will receive one of the largest settlements in the Catholic Church's history.

“It’s a triumph,” said Jim Keenan, a survivor standing alongside his attorney Jeff Anderson. “I realize that the work is not done. I don’t want anyone to leave the room and think that the Catholic Church sexual scandal is now over, it’s not. There’s lots of work to be done around the world.”

$210 million will go to 450 victims of abuse as part of its plan for bankruptcy reorganization.

In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year window allowing abuse survivors to sue for damages. By 2015, 450 claims were filed, leading to the archdiocese filing for bankruptcy. That’s when the archdiocese reported a net worth of $45 million dollars. The Associated Press reports attorneys for the victims maintained that the archdiocese's true worth was over $1 billion, counting assets of its 187 Roman Catholic parishes, as well as schools, cemeteries and other church-related entities.

The $210,290,724.00 settlement will be the second-largest payout in the priest abuse scandal. The largest came in 2007, when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, California paid out $660 million to 508 victims.

Marie Mielke is a survivor and a mother of three. She talked about how news of the settlement affected her life.

“What’s been done to me has really interfered with the joy of being of a mother,” said Mielke. “It’s hard to describe how you’re fighting against the trauma and then trying to present for the miracle of your children, which they are.”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St Paul-Minneapolis said the settlement reaffirms their commitment to protect children and vulnerable adults.

“While today marks the end of a very difficult period for many, today really signals a new beginning,” said Archbishop Hebda. “The completion of the bankruptcy process allows pursuit of a new day that has many realities. Atonement, healing, and restoration of trust. I ask that we enter this new day together, in hope and in love.”

The $210 million dollars will come from cash the Archdiocese has on-hand, sold property and insurance carriers.

“These are policies that were purchased by the Archdiocese and paid for, and purchased by parishes and paid for,” said Tom Abood with the Archdiocesan Financial Council and head of the Reorganization Task Force. “For example, of the $210 million, approximately $170 million is coming from carriers.”

A trustee not connected with the Archdiocese will be appointed to oversee the distribution of the settlement to victims. That person will evaluate the claims and decide the amount for each victim.

"I sure hope for those who have been harmed in the past that this brings closure for them," said Archbishop Hebda.