Listen to this article Santa Rosa Diocese Declares Bankruptcy In Response To Influx Of Church Sex Abuse Lawsuits
On Monday, the Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, in response to the potentially hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits it is facing. California passed a law in 2019 that enabled victims of alleged childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits that existing statute of limitation rules would have previously prohibited.This law opened a three-year period during which such victims could seek legal recourse. As a result of this law, the filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy by the Diocese of Santa Rosa has become necessary due to the potentially hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits that it faces. Bishop Robert Vasa had announced the filing was imminent in a media release on Friday, citing the number of child sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Diocese over the past three years as the reason.
The Number of Lawsuits
Since the three-year window closed in December 2022, the Diocese of Santa Rosa learned that it could be facing more than 200 such suits. These cases are too numerous to settle individually, and so they have accumulated, according to Bishop Vasa. The diocese has already paid out roughly $35 million in settlements for the first wave of sexual abuse lawsuits, according to Vasa, making it impossible to see any way forward without recourse to the bankruptcy protections available in the country.
The Bankruptcy Decision
The diocese’s decision to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy will allow it, under court supervision, to bring all parties together in one place to resolve the claims fairly and finally. The bankruptcy provides a way for the Diocese to continue the various charitable ministries in which it is engaged, while dealing with all the issues collectively rather than one at a time, according to Vasa. The Bishop emphasized that the decision to seek bankruptcy protection was a difficult one, but it was necessary to protect the future of the diocese.
Reaction to the Bankruptcy Filing
While the bankruptcy filing may be a way for the diocese to move forward, it is not sitting well with victims and their lawyers who have been working through the legal process for years in some cases. Attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm represents 78 survivors of alleged abuse in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, said the filing is an “ill-fated” effort by the diocese to shirk its obligations to the victims who suffered sexual abuse. Anderson also alleged that the diocese is facing a lawsuit over allegations that it has transferred assets in a bid to avoid accountability.
Response to Allegations
Bishop Vasa denied the claim that the diocese transferred assets to avoid accountability, calling it “nothing but speculation.” He acknowledged that the bankruptcy filing would not be a perfect solution but reiterated that it was necessary to protect the future of the diocese and its ministries. Vasa also expressed sympathy for the victims of sexual abuse, saying the diocese is committed to doing everything it can to bring closure to those affected.
Also Read This : Russian Fighter Jet Collides With US Drone Over Black Sea