Scores of alleged victims of a paedophile priest in the Boston area have sued the archdiocese for damages amounting to millions of dollars.
Senior advisers to Cardinal Bernard Law favour filing for bankruptcy, and any decision must be approved by the cardinal, according to The Boston Sunday Globe, citing unnamed sources close to the archdiocese.
Calling the report speculative and premature, spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said. “Our first desire is to settle in a fair and expeditious manner.”
The lawyer for 86 alleged victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan said in September that they have tentatively agreed to a $10 million settlement with the archdiocese.
Geoghan is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for molesting a 10-year-old boy.
If the archdiocese does file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, action in all civil lawsuits against the archdiocese would be suspended and it would be protected from new suits, according to the report.
Filing for bankruptcy would mean that the archdiocese is admitting it is liable, but Cardinal Law would no longer have to answer questions in pre-trial depositions and archdiocese lawyers would not have to release any more priests personnel files to plaintiffs’ lawyers.
This week, alleged victims’ lawyers will start making public the personnel files of 65 priests.
Robert Sherman, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, which represents about half the alleged victims said: “Cardinal Law has made a commitment to resolving these claims so the victims can obtain closure.
“For the church to file for bankruptcy would be inconsistent with his posture and would keep those wounds open,” he said.