New Ulm Diocese announces $34 million settlement with sexual abuse survivors

The Diocese of New Ulm has reached a $34 million settlement in its bankruptcy case with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, Bishop John LeVoir announced in a statement June 26.

According to the diocese, $26 million of the settlement funds will come from insurance coverage and $8 million from cash and property contributions from the diocese and parishes. This includes cash from a mortgage on the diocese’s Pastoral Center. The settlement is with 93 abuse victims/survivors.

“I believe the settlement agreement we have reached is a fair one,” Bishop LeVoir said in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.

“I am deeply grateful to victims and survivors who courageously came forward to raise awareness about clergy sexual abuse and to work to ensure others will not have to suffer the wounds they sustained and the pain they endured,” he wrote. “Victims and survivors are owed just compensation for the harm they have suffered by those entrusted with serving them. Their coming forward to share their stories and seek justice from the Church that failed them took great courage. I again apologize to them on behalf of the Church. I hope that the settlement agreement we have reached together helps victims and survivors on their healing journey.”

The Minnesota Child Victims Act temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on historical childhood sexual abuse claims for a three-year period ending in May 2016. The diocese filed for Chapter 11 financial reorganization in March 2017.

The settlement plan must still be approved by the claimants and confirmed by a bankruptcy judge.

The Diocese of Duluth agreed to a $40 million settlement in May with 125 plaintiffs. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis settled last year with 442 victims/survivors for $210 million. Also last year, the Crosier religious order and victims/survivors agreed to a $25 million settlement.

The Diocese of St. Cloud announced its intention in February 2018 to file for bankruptcy reorganization to settle 74 claims of past sexual abuse of minors. No date for filing has yet been set. The diocese has said it remains in discussions with insurance companies and attorneys for the survivors, and it hopes to reach a consensual agreement on a plan before filing.

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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