Catholic sex abuse claims deadline still undetermined but coming soon

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 3/14/19

As part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy proceedings, people wishing to make a claim against the church for sexual abuse will have to file their paperwork before a "bar date," which will likely be established in the near future. A committee made up of survivors is also finalizing the paperwork potential claimants will use in the bankruptcy proceedings.

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Catholic sex abuse claims deadline still undetermined but coming soon

Posted

As part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy proceedings, people wishing to make a claim against the church for sexual abuse will have to file their paperwork before a "bar date," which will likely be established in the near future.

"We expect the bar date to be finalized very soon," said Levi Monagle, a lawyer whose firm is representing more than 50 claimants in the church's bankruptcy proceedings.

Monagle said the church will be required extensively to publicize the date, which could be sometime in early summer.

A committee made up of survivors of priest sex abuse, or their representatives, is also finalizing the paperwork potential claimants will use in the bankruptcy proceedings.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in December in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for New Mexico. The archdiocese has about $49 million in assets, including about $31.6 million in property, according to the court documents. Under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, the debtor -- in this case, the church -- comes up with a plan to pay its debts while also continuing to operate.

More than 350 abuse survivors have been documented in the archdiocese over the last 25 years, including at least 18 who filed lawsuits claiming to have been abused by Michael O'Brien, a former priest in Ranchos de Taos and Questa who died in 1993. At least 16 priests have been named as child abusers by the archdiocese, in lawsuits or both.

The renewed scrutiny of the Roman Catholic Church has led to actions toward accountability both from governments and within the church itself.

Like a dozen of his counterparts around the county, the New Mexico Attorney General opened a wide-ranging investigation into the church's history of priest sexual abuse and the systemic cover-up of the crisis. And the church recently convened a meeting of bishops to discuss the topic, though critics of the church argued the church's top leaders weren't taking decisive enough action to deal with the crisis.

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