NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday.
It is facing close to 60 sex abuse lawsuits, so the diocese of Norwich is seeking protection from federal bankruptcy laws. The Bishop assures his flock this will have a minimal impact on church activities. Advocates say it is not fair to the victims.
“I think it is a coward’s way out of not dealing with a situation that should have been dealt with many, many years ago,” said Beth McCabe, the Co-Founder of SNAP CT, a support network for survivors of church abuse.
McCabe has heard the terrible stories of the Mount Saint John School in Deep River. It was a school for troubled boys and dozens of men have sued the diocese saying they were abused while they were students there in the 1990s.
“A Chapter 11 filing would ensure an equitable settlement for abuse survivors, help us to manage litigation expenses, and carry out our essential mission and ministries,” [Most Reverend Michael Cote, the Bishop of Norwich, in a video statement.
Chapter 11 means a special master will be appointed to tally up all the assets of the diocese.
“Once the court determines what that actual number is, and those assets that can be liquidated to do that, then they can set a number to determine what each particular claimant could receive,” explained University of New Haven professor Dr. Robert Sanders.
The diocese has already made it clear the assets cannot possibly cover all the lawsuits.
“The bankruptcy court will oversee a settlement that ensures that all survivors are included and treated fairly,” said Bishop Cote.
“The bottom line is, that hurts survivors. they deserve justice,” said McCabe. “They deserve, you know, assistance.”
The Bishop said in his statement that his top priority continues to be the fair and equitable treatment of survivors of sexual abuse.