The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has filed for bankruptcy in an effort to settle more than 500 child sex abuse lawsuits, becoming the latest religious organization driven to bankruptcy by a wave of sex abuse ligation.
(Bloomberg) — The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has filed for bankruptcy in an effort to settle more than 500 child sex abuse lawsuits, becoming the latest religious organization driven to bankruptcy by a wave of sex abuse ligation.
The archdiocese listed assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million each in a Chapter 11 petition filed in San Francisco bankruptcy court. Filing bankruptcy halts pending and future lawsuits, giving the archdiocese time to formulate a potential settlement with survivors who will have the right to vote to accept or reject any potential resolutions.
The San Francisco archdiocese follows the Roman Catholic Bishop of Santa Rosa, also located in Northern California, which turned to Chapter 11 earlier this year. Dioceses in other California cities have said they’re also considering bankruptcy to withstand sex abuse claims.
In recent years, lawmakers in California and other states have made it possible for survivors to bring viable lawsuits even if abuse occurred decades ago and their claims would have otherwise been blocked by the statute of limitations. The San Francisco archdiocese told Bloomberg Law in March that it was analyzing more than 400 abuse lawsuits.
In a statement, the San Francisco archbishop said the overwhelming majority of the more than 500 claims arise from alleged abuse that occurred at least 30 years ago “involving priests who are no longer active in ministry or are deceased.” The organization said it has paid more than $70 million in settlements to survivors since 2003.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said the archdiocese lacks financial means to litigate the abuse claims individually. Bankruptcy is “the best solution for providing fair and equitable compensation to the innocent survivors who have been harmed,” he said.
The archdiocese said it will continue paying its employees in bankruptcy and providing services for roughly 442,000 Catholics in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.
The case is The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, 23-30564, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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