The fund for victims of clergy sex abuse would double from a proposed $65 million to $130 million under an amended bankruptcy reorganization plan filed Tuesday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The increase comes primarily from new insurance settlements with the archdiocese. The archdiocese would contribute about $13 million to the fund, as would the parishes.
The proposal was swiftly criticized by victims’ attorneys as being too easy on insurers and too stingy on the part of the archdiocese.
More than 400 people have filed claims against the archdiocese in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, alleging its clergy sexually abused them as children. Under the new plan, each victim would receive an average payout of about $300,000.
“We cut the best deal given the circumstances,” said Charles Rogers, archdiocese bankruptcy attorney, at a news conference Tuesday. “It provides resolution for everyone, the parishes, the archdiocese and those who have claims against the archdiocese.”
But victims’ attorneys said their analysis of insurance claims indicated there was $1 billion in insurance funds available, more than the $92 million that insurers would contribute to the new plan.
They also said the archdiocese’s $13 million contribution was paltry, given its assets.
“This is a sham. This is deficient. This is misleading,” said victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson at a news conference Tuesday.
The archdiocese, he said, needs to contribute an amount closer “to its ability to pay,” he said.
While a $130 million fund may seem like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the suffering endured by those who were sexually abused as children, he said.
The archdiocese filed its first reorganization plan in May, which established a $65 million trust fund for victims. It announced that the fund would grow as insurance settlements were reached. The amended plan reflects that.
Eleven of the 13 insurance carriers now have reached agreements with the archdiocese, said Rogers. The two remaining represent 60 abuse claims that occurred from 1980 to 1986. Those claims could result in millions of additional dollars, he said.
The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2015 following a surge in abuse claims stemming from a law that opened a three-year window for decades-old child sex abuse cases to be heard in court.
Since then, it has spent more than $11 million on bankruptcy attorney fees.
The reorganization plan also calls for a $500,000 counseling fund for victims, and new protocols to prevent future child abuse.
A hearing on the amended plan is scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Dec. 15.