The Minnesota Diocese of Winona-Rochester has agreed to pay $21.5 million to clergy abuse survivors. The multi-million settlement is one step in the diocese’s bankruptcy process. The settlement will compensate 145 child sexual abuse survivors.
$21.5 Million Bankruptcy Settlement Announced
The Diocese of Winona-Rochester announced it will pay $21.5 million to settle claims of priest abuse with 145 victims. The settlement agreement enables the diocese to submit a financial reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The payout will settle legal claims against diocesan schools, churches and other establishments.
A statement from the diocese read, “This settlement, mutually agreed to by the Diocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, includes resolution of claims against the parishes, schools and other Catholic entities within the Diocese.”
For many abuse survivors, this settlement marks the end of a long struggle for accountability from the diocese.
“We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.”
A History: The Winona-Rochester Diocese Bankruptcy
In November 2018, the Diocese of Winona-Rochester filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used to protect businesses that are struggling financially. The process evaluates and reorganizes a business’ assets. In doing so, a business can pay off debts while maintaining enough capital to continue operating.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy to handle a growing number of clergy abuse lawsuits. Many survivors filed these lawsuits under the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act.
The 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act extended the state’s legal deadline to file child sexual abuse claims. This law resulted in many lawsuits filed against the Minnesota Catholic dioceses.
The Winona-Rochester Diocese was the fourth Minnesota diocese to file for bankruptcy. As of June 2020, five of the six Minnesota dioceses have filed for bankruptcy amid abuse claims. Nationwide, 27 Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy since 2004.
Hopfensperger, J. (2021, February 10). Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims. Star Tribune.
Millard, K. (2021, February 10). Diocese of Winona-Rochester settles clergy sex abuse claims for $21.5 million. WXOW.
(2018, November 19). Winona-Rochester diocese plans to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Associated Press.
(2021, February 11). Diocese in Minnesota settles abuse claims for $21.5 million. The Associated Press.