Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – A Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania declared bankruptcy on Wednesday, six months after admitting that it paid millions of dollars to people who were sexually abused by priests as children.
The Diocese of Harrisburg joins at least another 20 in the United States seek ing protection from creditors through financial laws, but it is the first in Pennsylvania.
In August, the diocese admitted that he paid a total of just over $ 12 million as compensation to people who during their childhood were victims of sexual abuse by clerics, deacons or seminarians. Six other victims rejected payments from the diocese.RELATED
In the documents where it declares bankruptcy, the diocese affirms that “it has been significantly exposed to the claims of other whistleblowers” and requests to use Chapter 11 to reorganize itself, pay claims, fulfill its pastoral missions and other operations.
The diocese serves about 250,000 Catholics in 89 parishes in 15 counties in Pennsylvania.
The measure could protect her from new claims, said Ben Andreozzi, a lawyer in Harrisburg who has resolved about 20 complaints against the diocese and is working on two lawsuits, all related to sexual abuse.
“From the day you file bankruptcy, thereafter, if a person did not file your complaint before, it is no longer valid,” Andreozzi explained.
The Diocese of Harrisburg launched a temporary compensation program after an investigating jury accused him, along with five other dioceses of Pennsylvania, of covering up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children in the last century.
These victims, now adults, according to state laws are already too old to sue the diocese.
The state Legislature took a crucial step last year to reform the state constitution, in order to give victims the opportunity to sue abusive priests and the institutions that protected them.