Milwaukee Church Fails to Reach Bankruptcy Settlement
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Milwaukee Church Fails to Reach Bankruptcy Settlement with Victims

November 14, 2012


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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is heading back to bankruptcy court after filing to reach a settlement with the victims of its clergymen’s sexual abuse during a court-ordered mediation process, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

Sources say the heated dispute over injury compensation between the church and its reported 575 abuse victims, which is the largest class of creditors in the church's bankruptcy, has become a "scorched earth legal battle."

In an effort to help both parties reach an agreement, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy process pushed both parties into mediation in July, but sources confirmed that the settlement process had failed.

Now, the attorney representing the abuse victims will continue to try to force the church to release thousands of pages of documents relating to the abuse incidents. These documents have been sealed for years, according to sources.

Specifically, the attorney wants to investigate the reported millions of dollars in funds that have left the church’s coffers for hidden trusts in recent years. Apparently, the attorney believes that the church has tried to hide many of its assets from the victims of abuse.

And while the bankruptcy court has not publicly commented on the cause of the dissolution of the mediation process, victim’s rights advocates have placed the blame solely on the church.

According to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group representing victims, "the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has once again raised false hopes of a settlement with victim/survivors and a resolution to the clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis."

In response, the archdiocese has claimed that many of the claims against it have either passed the statute of limitations, or are cases of outright fraud.

In the middle of the whole mess is U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley, who has weighed the dispute with an even hand, but is likely growing weary of the prolonged dispute.

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