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Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims: Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when a Diocese files bankruptcy?

In prior bankruptcies, dioceses and religious orders have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. This is not a liquidation (as is common in Chapter 7 bankruptcy) and survivors can still proceed with legal claims for childhood sexual abuse.

Have other dioceses filed for bankruptcy? If so, what has been the result?

Yes. As of October 2019, 23 Catholic dioceses and religious orders have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2004. Several have been resolved and each has resulted in monetary settlements to survivors. The size of the settlements has varied due to the amount of the debtor’s assets, the number of claims submitted, availability of insurance coverage, and other factors.

Now that the Diocese has filed bankruptcy, do I still have a legal claim? Will you still represent me?

Yes. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse you can file what’s called a “proof of claim” in the bankruptcy proceedings. This is not a class action lawsuit. Every survivor will have his or her own proof of claim.

How long do I have to decide if I want to file a claim?

The bankruptcy court will set a deadline called a “bar date.” This will be the last date that a survivor can file a claim in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Can I remain anonymous if I choose to file a claim?

Yes. The majority of cases we’ve handled in our 35+ years of working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been filed as “John Done” or “Jane Doe.” The decision to use your name is completely up to you. If you wish, your identity will be kept confidential by your lawyers, the court and the media.

If the diocese files for bankruptcy, can I still obtain documents and information on the perpetrator who sexually abused me?

In prior bankruptcies, sexual abuse survivors have negotiated non-economic settlement terms and disclosures as part of the reorganization plan.

If I file a claim, will the diocese, its parishes or its schools be forced to close?

This has not happened in the other diocesan or religious order bankruptcies.

I have been told that the Statute of Limitations prevents me from filing a lawsuit. What’s different now?

Laws and circumstances allowing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit change. If an entity files for bankruptcy, this could be the last opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice.

Why should I consider taking legal action for something that happened to me many years ago?

Unfortunately, many survivors of sexual abuse are not able to connect the emotional and psychological difficulties they experience in adulthood to the sexual abuse they suffered as a child. Making that connection is often the first step in the healing process. Simply calling or emailing us can help relieve some of the burden and provide a sense of purpose by taking action to hold your abuser and the institution that protected your abuser accountable for the harm caused to you and so many other survivors.

If I decide to do this will it be difficult for me? How will I be supported?

We have worked with survivors of childhood sexual abuse for over 35 years. From the moment you call you will be in the care of people who understand how difficult it is to come forward. We will listen to your story and work tirelessly in response to the injustice you have suffered. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

When I think about the abuse I suffered as a child I’m not sure what to do. Is there someone I can talk to privately that would begin to help me sort things out?

Fortunately the road to healing is paved with a multitude of caring organizations and individuals in your community. If you call or email our office we can refer you to a therapist in your area. Please remember that you are not alone, the abuse you experienced is not your fault, and together with many good people, healing is possible.

Will engaging with Jeff Anderson & Associates cost me anything out of my pocket?

No. If you call us we will provide a free and confidential consultation and explain all of your options. If you choose to have us represent you we will handle every aspect of your case.

You are not alone. We are here to help.

Before making a decision concerning such serious and sensitive matters, we encourage all survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, coaches or other authority figures to consult with legal counsel before proceeding with a claim. Our law firm of legal professionals and advocates has more than three decades of experience working with survivors of sexual abuse and litigating cases against perpetrators of sexual abuse and the institutions that protect them. Contact us today.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

What it Means for Someone Who Has Been Abused

On January 16, 2015, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A deadline of August 3, 2015, was subsequently set for survivors of clergy child sexual abuse, and other creditors, to file a claim in bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy case is currently ongoing and several issues need to be addressed before the case can be resolved.

Our Experience

Jeff Anderson & Associates represents hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse across Minnesota and has for almost 30 years. Having represented clergy abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcies in states such as Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware, we bring valuable experience and understanding to the bankruptcy and can help support your claim.

Our lawyers are experienced Minnesota litigators who have had proven success in removing barriers that in the past prevented adult victims of childhood clergy abuse from seeking justice. Within the last two years under the Child Victims Act, Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with numerous courageous survivors, were able to force the Archdiocese to publicly release the names of over 60 priests accused of child sexual abuse and release thousands of pages of internal church documents; we have also made the top officials and perpetrators in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis answer questions under oath about clergy sexual abuse.

In October 2013, as a result of the settlement of the Doe 1 v. Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, et al., case, the Archdiocese agreed to disclose additional names of clerics with substantiated claims of child sexual abuse. The Doe 1 lawsuit was filed in July 2013 under a Minnesota law, the Child Victims Act, passed by the Minnesota legislature in May 2013. This law created a three-year window for sexual abuse survivors to file claims for the abuse they suffered as children. This window closes on May 25, 2016.

Beginning in December 2013, the Archdiocese began publicly naming clergy members with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors. Additional names were made public in February, May and October of 2014 and in February 2015. To-date, 68 clergy members have been named as having substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor.

As a result of the Archdiocese’s failure to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm done to three abuse victims of Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer, the Archdiocese was criminally charged on June 5, 2015. The case is ongoing in Ramsey County District Court and is only the second time a United States diocese has been criminally charged.

Our Commitment

Jeff Anderson & Associates is recognized as the nation’s premier law firm to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse. We are smart, tough and relentless, but the virtue that ultimately sets us apart is our compassion. We are people who feel deeply and work tirelessly in response to an unjust world. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to meet each client’s unique needs while we support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

All of the survivors who came forward in the Archdiocese bankruptcy have enhanced the effort to hold abusers and the institutions that protected them and covered up their crimes accountable. Also, and just as importantly, they are raising awareness and protecting future generations of children from abuse.

Diocese of Duluth

What it Means for Someone Who Has Been Abused

On December 7, 2015, the Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. If you, or someone you know, were sexually abused by a priest, or any other person affiliated with the Diocese of Duluth, the Diocese’s bankruptcy filing provides an opportunity for you to file a claim for compensation—even if in the past you were told you couldn’t. We would like to help you.

In order to preserve your legal rights, you must file a claim by May 25, 2016.

Your Privacy Will be Protected

Be assured that your privacy will be respected and your identity can remain confidential. If a survivor joins this effort and wishes to remain anonymous we can take measures to assure your privacy. We will explain the process and handle your bankruptcy claim on your behalf with no out-of-pocket expense to you.

Our Experience

Jeff Anderson & Associates represents hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse across Minnesota and has for almost 30 years. Having represented clergy abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcies in states such as Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware, we bring valuable experience and understanding to the bankruptcy and can help support your claim.

Our lawyers are experienced Minnesota litigators who have had proven success in removing barriers that in the past prevented adult victims of childhood clergy abuse from seeking justice. Within the last several years under the Child Victims Act, Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with numerous courageous survivors, were able to force the Diocese of Duluth to publicly release the names of over 30 priests accused of child sexual abuse and release internal church documents; we were also able to obtain a jury verdict and judgment against the Diocese of Duluth at trial in October 2015.

Jeff Anderson & Associates has fought on behalf of courageous survivors against the Diocese of Duluth for decades. Jeff Anderson helped survivors file suits against the Diocese of Duluth as early as the 1980s. Since that time, Jeff Anderson has had the honor of working with hundreds of survivors in an effort to force the Diocese of Duluth to come clean.

Our Commitment

Jeff Anderson & Associates is recognized as the nation’s premier law firm to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse. We are smart, tough and relentless, but the virtue that ultimately sets us apart is our compassion. We are people who feel deeply and work tirelessly in response to an unjust world. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to meet each client’s unique needs while we support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

Filing a Claim in the Duluth Bankruptcy Can Help You and Help Protect Children

Adding your voice as one of many survivors who have and will come forward in the Diocese of Duluth bankruptcy will not only enhance the effort to hold abusers and the institutions that protected them and covered up their crimes accountable, but just as importantly, will raise awareness and protect future generations of children from abuse.

MN ACCUSED

Below is a list of clergy in Minnesota who have been accused of inappropriate behavior. They have worked in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Diocese of Crookston; Diocese of Duluth; Diocese of New Ulm; Diocese of St. Cloud; and/or the Diocese of Winona.

If you have information pertaining to any of the individual names listed below, please contact our firm. Your privacy will be respected.