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article imageSexual abuse claims cause Catholic Diocese to file for Chapter 11

By Kay Mathews     Oct 19, 2009 in World
On Sunday, Delaware's Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The diocese faces 142 sexual abuse claims. The filing came one day before the start of a civil trial against a defrocked priest.
According to Reuters, court documents indicate that Delaware's Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday. More than 140 people claiming they were victims of sexual abuse by the diocese's priests have filed claims.
The case to begin Monday involves a victim who alleges that he was abused by a priest at the diocese in Wilmington.
Reuters reports:
The abuse case scheduled to begin in Delaware on Monday was filed by a 57-year-old man who said that when he was an altar boy he was abused by Francis G. DeLuca, a now defrocked priest who worked in the diocese for 35 years and is involved in at least 20 cases.
Delaware's Catholic Diocese of Wilmington is the seventh in the United States to seek bankruptcy protection, following the archdiocese of Portland, Oregon; the diocese of San Diego; Tucson, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Davenport, Iowa; and Fairbanks, Alaska.
Reuters reports that Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly said the following a statement on the diocese website:
This is a painful decision, one that I had hoped and prayed I would never have to make. However ... I believe we have no other choice and that filing for Chapter 11 offers the best opportunity, given finite resources, to provide the fairest possible treatment of all victims of sexual abuse by priests of our diocese.
Three years ago the late Bishop Michael Saltarelli "released the names of 18 Diocesan priests who had admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated allegations of abuse of minors," Malooly further stated.
Reuters reports that the decision to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy came after talks failed with 142 abuse claimants to negotiate an agreement, and civil trials were set to get underway.
In the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington's filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, assets were estimated at between $50 and $100 million and liabilities estimated at between $100 and $500 million.
The Wilmington diocese is 140-years-old, serves 233,000 Roman Catholics, and covers 58 parishes and 27 schools in Delaware and part of Maryland.
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