Harrisburg Diocese Bankrupt Due to Child Sex Abuse
HARRISBURG DIOCESE BECOMES FIRST IN PA. TO SEEK BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION AFTER CHILD SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
Last month, the Harrisburg Diocese became the most recent member of the international Catholic Church to fold under the financial burden of offenses including child sexual abuse. While speaking in the presence of members from the media, Bishop Ronald Gainer declared that 15-county Harrisburg Diocese petitioned for Chapter 11 protection. He clarified the reasoning for the documenting.
“Our current financial situation is unsustainable going forward,” Gainer stated. “This is the correct path forward for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg,” he said.
The filing arises two years after a statewide grand jury examination found that clerics in the diocese and five others in Pennsylvania had sexually molested minors. The 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, which was driven by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, additionally found that church heads had concealed the violations.
The Harrisburg ward turns into the main Catholic bishopric in Pennsylvania to declare bankruptcy. Last fall, a lawyer representing the Catholic diocese in Pittsburgh raised the possibility of a potential bankruptcy filing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The bankruptcy implies that scores of exploited people who are barred from the lawful procedure since they passed the legal time limit are presently qualified to look for remuneration in a liquidation settlement. Practically all the maltreatment cases archived by the grand jury examination dropped out of the statute.
Harrisburg a year ago paid out $12 million in settlements with in excess of 100 survivors as a major part of their victims’ pay support. The normal payout to those accepting the Harrisburg diocese’s offers was about $114,000. A lawyer who served clergy sex abuse survivors portrayed the Harrisburg diocese’s settlements as “a little light.”
Sufferers who previously settled with the Harrisburg diocese through its victims’ remuneration fund are banned from making an additional legal moves against the diocese.
In petitioning for bankruptcy protection, Harrisburg joins the ranks of two dozen Catholic dioceses thereabout across the nation to seek bankruptcy protection in the midst of the clergy sex abuse outrage.
Chapter 11 Trends Amongst Dioceses
Dioceses have broadly picked chapter 11 protection in the midst of financial strain from legal actions against them, including the most recent, the Diocese of Rochester in New York, which has seen a deluge of claims after New York a year ago sanctioned wide changes to the statute of limitations. The new law permits victims with claims going back a very long time to proceed with legal action.
Harrisburg, alongside the other seven bishoprics in the state (counting the Philadelphia Archdiocese), face approaching changes concerning state law.
Gov. Tom Wolf and state officials a year ago endorsed measures to change child sex crime laws. A new law gives future victims of child molestation more opportunity to file claims and to end time limits for police to record criminal allegations. Victims additionally have more opportunity to file lawsuits under the law; they can pursue common cases up to age 55, as opposed to age 30 beforehand.
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