Montana’s Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection as it settles molestation lawsuits filed on behalf of hundreds of children.
“The settlement here will be as much help financially as we can offer to claimants,” the spokesman, Dan Bartleson, told NBCNews.com. “And the bankruptcy puts us in a place at the diocese where we can care for the Catholics who are currently part of the church.” The lawsuits, originally filed in 2011, claimed that clergy members had abused children from the 1940s to 1980s and that the diocese knew or should have known what was happening. “It’s widespread … (and) some of the most horrific abuse we’ve dealt with,” Dan Fasy, an attorney with law firm Kosnoff Fasy, which represents 268 of the 362 claimants, told NBC News. Although the settlements are not official yet, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana would supervise the disbursement of $15 million if the Chapter 11 protection is approved, with an additional $2.5 million set aside for victims who have not yet come forward, Bartleson said.
Most of the settlements will be paid by insurance companies. (Tipped by JMG reader Dan)