Minnesota Catholic diocese to pay $22.5M to sexual assault victims, file for bankruptcy

Minnesota Catholic diocese to pay $22.5M to sexual assault victims, file for bankruptcy
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The Diocese of Saint Cloud, Minn., has agreed to pay victims of past clerical sexual abuse $22.5 million and file for bankruptcy, making it the fifth of the state’s six Catholic dioceses to take such a step if the settlement is approved.

The agreement will settle claims made against more than 40 priests by about 70 plaintiffs, with the allegations dating back to the 1950s, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. While many of the accused priests have since died, at least one was still in active ministry in Elk River as recently as 2015, according to the newspaper.

The agreement would also require the diocese to turn over its files on the accused priests.

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“Every single survivor with whom we worked has felt some measure of recovery of power by having come forward to share secrets,” attorney Jeff Anderson said in a statement.

“We believe they have made the community safer because of it, and they have been a part of a massive cleanup of a massive coverup in the Diocese of St. Cloud. It has been a journey born of great tribulation,” he added.

“I am particularly grateful to the survivors of abuse for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences, and I again apologize on behalf of the Church for the harm they suffered,” Saint Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler said in a statement. “I remain committed to assist in the healing of all those who have been hurt, and I hope this is another step in that direction.”

The diocese disclosed the names of 33 priests credibly accused of abuse in 2014, and the names of another 27 emerged due to new lawsuits and information. The diocese first announced it would file for bankruptcy in 2018.

Minnesota lawmakers in 2013 passed the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which suspended the statute of limitations for abuse claims for three years and allowed about 800 plaintiffs to file claims of clerical abuse.