January 26, 2007 in City

Some victims oppose diocese settlement

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A $48 million proposed settlement that would end the Catholic Diocese of Spokane bankruptcy doesn’t go far enough to expose pedophile priests, a handful of victims said Thursday afternoon.

About 190 people have filed bankruptcy claims alleging they were sexually abused by Catholic priests over several decades. The settlement, which was announced in early January, begins to outline how much victims would be paid. It also requires Bishop William Skylstad to publish the names of priests – dead and alive – who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.

But the deal is flawed, say some victims, whose attorneys hammered out the agreement during months of private mediation talks with the diocese and the Association of Parishes.

They called the bankruptcy a cash cow for attorneys and a sham for victims.

Victims are likely to receive less than half the $48 million – perhaps $22 million – with the rest going to pay bankruptcy attorneys and the attorneys whom the victims hired on contingency, said Steve Barber, who remains undecided about how he’ll vote on the deal.

The settlement would be more palatable if it called on Skylstad to release all diocese files regarding problem priests.

Attorneys involved in the case are under a federal judge’s order that forbids them from talking about the settlement, which is included within a pending bankruptcy plan of reorganization.

Molly Harding, who helped start a local support group for victims, said the diocese will never achieve healing or trust until it releases all files.

Also on Thursday, Harding filed 15 formal records requests with the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to see if any complaints were filed regarding priests and bishops, and how local law enforcement responded.


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