Deadline not extended for archdiocese claims

Published 9:52 am Friday, July 31, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal bankruptcy judge declined Thursday to extend next week’s deadline for victims of clergy sex abuse to file claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Victims’ attorneys challenged the Aug. 3 deadline, asking the court to extend it to next May.

U.S. bankruptcy judge Robert Kressel reaffirmed his April decision, designed to expedite the archdiocese’s reorganization plan, according to a press release. He said abuse victims had received ample notice about the deadline.

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“It’s important to reach out, and I think we have,” Kressel said.

Attorneys for the archdiocese were against extending the deadline, saying that it would complicate its reorganization and lead to more in professional fees.

Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson argued that the creditors in this case — victims of clergy abuse — aren’t like the ordinary creditors in bankruptcy court. He said victims often suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental issues that could hinder them from coming forward.

“This breaks the archdiocese promise that it would put victims first,” he said. “It puts victims second again.”

The creditor’s committee, which is composed of sex abuse victims, also argued that extending the deadline would expedite a settlement and provide more insurance money for victims.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January following a wave of clergy abuse lawsuits.

Under state law, victims of prior sex abuse have until May 25, 2016, to come forward with civil claims, but once the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, that court set different deadlines.

Since the judge denied the victims’ request in bankruptcy court, any claims against the archdiocese must be filed by Monday, but civil claims against other dioceses in the state or individual parishes can be filed until next May.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported that as of late Wednesday, more than 400 creditors had filed claims. Abuse victims accounted for more than 250 of them.