Friday, April 3, 2009

Catholic diocese seeks bankruptcy protection

Nfld. Catholic diocese seeks bankruptcy protection
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2005 1:06 PM ET
CBC News
A Roman Catholic diocese in Newfoundland is filing for bankruptcy protection, saying the move is necessary in order to give sexual abuse victims the best possible compensation package.
INDEPTH: Catholicism in Canada
The St. George's diocese, based in Corner Brook and taking in the westernmost third of the island of Newfoundland, announced its action late Tuesday.
Bishop Douglas Crosby said the diocese does not have the $50 million in compensation that the 36 victims of Father Kevin Bennett are seeking, and bankruptcy protection will allow the diocese to negotiate a realistic package for the victims.
"It gives us time to work with the victims to put out all of our resources and make sure that everybody knows everything, [that] nothing is hidden, and that we can come up with a compensation package that is accepted by them and satisfactory to the court," said Crosby.
Churches, other assets might be sold
If the diocese gets bankruptcy protection, it will have 30 days to work out a deal with the victims and other creditors.
If it doesn't, the diocese will automatically be bankrupt and its assets will be liquidated. That could include churches, parish buildings and land.
Greg Stack is the lawyer who represents the 36 men whom Bennett molested over the course of 28 years while they were altar boys at his parishes.
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On Tuesday, he said he believes the diocese has enough assets to pay the $50 million in compensation without liquidating, especially since it carried insurance that should shoulder some of the cost.
"If there have to be 'For Sale' signs put on the churches and the different buildings and so on ... so be it," he said.
"But we don't think that will be called for."
Move called delaying tactic
Stack calls the diocese's move a stalling tactic that "freezes all the legal avenues we have in order to get compensation for them."
He had expected to be in court Wednesday to seek an interim payment from the diocese.
"There's an awful lot of continued disappointment with their church," Stack said in describing the reaction of some of his clients, who have been trying to get compensation since Bennett was convicted in 1990 on charges of assaulting them.
"Their church has attacked them for 15 years and has funded legal action against them... They have been vindicated at every stage of the proceedings."

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