Minnesota diocese reaches $34M settlement with abuse victims

NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — The Diocese of New Ulm in Minnesota has reached a $34 million settlement in its bankruptcy case with 93 people who say they were sexually abused by priests and others, the diocese and an attorney representing survivors said Thursday.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents many of the survivors, said the settlement includes contribution of $8 million from the diocese and its parishes with the rest coming from insurance carriers. If the bankruptcy court approves the plan, the survivors will vote, and then their claims will be evaluated to determine award amounts for the individuals.

Anderson praised the survivors for advancing the child protection movement and making their communities safer for children.

“This is a big day for the survivors,” Anderson said in a statement.

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Bishop John LeVoir said the settlement represents the diocese’s commitment to finding a fair resolution for victims and survivors while continuing its ministry in southern and west-central Minnesota.

“I hope and pray that today’s settlement helps victims and survivors on their healing journey,” LeVoir said.

The diocese, which filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2017, previously agreed to release the names of priests credibly accused of sex abuse, Anderson said.

The New Ulm diocese is among several Roman Catholic dioceses in Minnesota that have filed for bankruptcy protection amid child sex abuse claims or are considering it.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis emerged from bankruptcy last December, three months after a federal bankruptcy judge approved a $210 million settlement.

In May, the Diocese of Duluth reached a $40 million settlement with dozens of people who said they were abused as children by priests. The Diocese of Winona-Rochester filed for bankruptcy protection last November and currently is in mediation, a spokesman for the diocese said. The St. Cloud diocese announced its intention to file in February 2018 but hasn’t done so.

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