Clergy Sex Abuse Bankruptcy
Title: “Clergy sex abuse victims seek dismissal of Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy”
Author: David Hammer
Victims of alleged child sexual abuse by clergy are asking a judge to throw out the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case, saying the church filed for the legal protection in “bad faith” as a way to block their lawsuits rather than for a legitimate financial need.
At least 34 abuse lawsuits have been halted due to the local Catholic Church’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 1. Another half dozen cases filed since then are also on hold pending the bankruptcy.
Last week, the Archdiocese filed a motion in the bankruptcy case asking the court to bar any new abuse claims after Sept. 29. A committee of attorneys representing the church’s unsecured creditors, which includes the victims of the alleged abuse, responded with a motion late Friday to dismiss the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy case completely, a move that would help pending abuse claims move forward.
In their motion to dismiss, the creditors said the bankruptcy was filed as a “litigation tactic” just as many abuse victims had asked the courts to release internal church documents and force top archdiocesan officials to testify under oath.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond was scheduled to testify in one of the abuse cases on May 28, but that was quashed by the bankruptcy. All of the abuse litigation was moved in May from state court to federal court, where the bankruptcy would automatically stop document production and testimony by church officials.
The Rev. Patrick Carr, the archdiocese’s vicar of finance, issued a statement May 1 explaining how the growing number of abuse cases and other financial concerns led to the bankruptcy.
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