The Roman Catholic Church's second-largest payout in the United States for sexual abuse settlements has just been announced.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis just announced they will pay over $210 million to 450 victims of sexual abuse.
Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing the victims, said the money will go into a pool and be distributed out to survivors, with each survivor's amount to be determined.
The settlement is part of the Archdiocese's plan for bankruptcy and reorganization. The Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, after mounting litigation costs for the increasing number of sexual assault cases became too much to bear.
Two committees were formed in the bankruptcy case, one representing the interests of the sexual assault survivors, and one representing the interests of the Archdiocese. The two competing committees came up with plans for settlements that the other disagreed with. Basically, the committee representing the Archdiocese wanted to pay as little money as possible.
In August 2017, the competing committees both submitted their proposals to Judge Robert Kressel, but in December Kressel rejected both plans. Kressel issued a memorandum indicating that he expected the two groups to back to mediation and reach a resolution that was mutually agreeable and paid proper restitution to the victims.
Yesterday they succeeded in realizing that resolution.
This is the second-largest settlement of its kind in the history of the U.S. The largest was in 2007, when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay a $660 million settlement to 508 victims of abuse. According to this 2015 article, which I have cited before, the Catholic Church in the United States paid $4 billion over 65 years in costs related to the sex abuse crisis.
Speaking about yesterday's settlement, Thomas Abood, chairman of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Reorganization Task Force, said that most of the money, about $170 million, would be paid by insurance carriers. The rest will come from parishes, the Archdiocese, a pension fund, and real estate sales.
I hope that means they will close some churches and sell the land, or sell some rectories, and take money from priests' pensions.
Marie Mielke, who was sexually abused from 1997 to 2000 by a clergyman in St. Paul, wanted to urge fellow survivors to come forward. "Power and healing is just as true as the evil that's out there," she said. "So get up and grab it."
I hope that Marie and the rest of the victims can now move forward, having won their battle against the church. And I hope that this is one further nail in the church's coffin.