New Ulm diocese is latest to file for bankruptcy over sex abuse settlements

It's the third Minnesota diocese to seek bankruptcy protection relating to sex abuse cases.

Ongoing financial pressure over decades-old clergy sex abuse cases has forced another Catholic Church diocese in Minnesota to file for bankruptcy.

The Diocese of New Ulm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, according to a news release from Jeff Anderson & Associates, which comes after the diocese last year released the names of 16 priests that had credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them.

The diocese faces 101 lawsuits under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, according to WCCO.

The Associated Press reports the diocese said filing for bankruptcy protection is "the fairest way to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse while continuing its operations."

Bishop John LeVoir also apologized to victims and abuse survivors in a statement, saying victims and survivors "must be treated with dignity and just compensation is owed them."

Victims' attorney Mike Finnegan said the bankruptcy filing "does not stop the pursuit of justice for sexual abuse survivors," adding: "Survivors will continue to seek truth and accountability in the bankruptcy process."

The Star Tribune reports the New Ulm Diocese has become the 16th Catholic religious organization in the country – and the third Minnesota diocese – to seek bankruptcy protection in relation to sex abuse scandals.

How did we get here?

In 2013, Minnesota passed a law that rolled back the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases for three years, meaning civil claims could be filed no matter when the abuse was said to have happened.

That led to hundreds of claims from people who said they were abused by clergy members, decades ago in many cases.

In 2015, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Duluth filed for bankruptcy protection. Both cases are still pending in bankruptcy court.

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