An overwhelming majority of victims of clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis favor a compensation plan submitted by a creditors' committee, attorneys representing the victims said Thursday.
According to the attorneys, 406 people who have been victims of abuse in the archdiocese, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015, recently voted on competing compensation plans. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kressel ruled late last year that the proposals would be voted on by victims, but the final decision on what plan prevails remains up to the court.
Of those voting, 94 percent favored a plan submitted by an abuse survivors' committee over one submitted by the archdiocese, according to victims' attorney Jeff Anderson.
The plan from the archdiocese includes a fund of more than $155 million for abuse victims who filed claims in bankruptcy court. Most of that money would come from insurance payments. The survivors' committee plan calls for the archdiocese to increase its contributions to the victims' fund to at least $80 million.
"We applaud all the courageous survivors who have come forward to speak their truth. Your voices have been heard," Anderson said in a news release.
In a note posted Thursday night on the archdiocese's website, Archbishop Bernard Hebda stressed that the balloting will not necessarily dictate the final plan.
"It is my understanding that the balloting was intended to inform the Bankruptcy Court as to how many creditors consent to confirmation of the proposed Plans," he wrote. "Given that the outcome of the balloting does not necessarily dictate any one particular result, we will continue to look to the Court for guidance as we proceed. I believe the Archdiocese's Plan of Reorganization … provides a fair and just resolution to the bankruptcy. Under our Plan, $155 million will be available to claimants whenever our Plan would be confirmed, without the need for any additional litigation or uncertainty. … It pains me that the longer this case plays out in court, the greater will be the attorneys' fees and costs incurred, diminishing settlement funds that would otherwise be available to those who have been harmed."
Under bankruptcy law, the archdiocese must pay for its legal counsel as well as attorneys for the victims' committee.
Calls to Anderson and to an archdiocese spokesman were not returned late Thursday.