Free Consultation Call 1.888.567.5557

General Overview of Diocesan and Religious Order Bankruptcies

In 2015, the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis and the Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As of December 2015, a total of fifteen dioceses or religious orders have filed for bankruptcy in the United States since 2004.

In order to preserve your legal rights, you must file a claim by May 25, 2016.

Each of the bankruptcy filings have resulted in settlements with clergy sexual abuse survivors. The size of the settlements vary due to the amount of the debtor’s assets, the number of claims submitted, availability of insurance coverage, and other factors.

Our law firm has over three decades of experience working with survivors of sexual abuse and we have litigated cases nationwide against Catholic dioceses and religious orders. If you or someone you know were sexually abused, contact us for more information. We would like to help you.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

What it Means for Someone Who Has Been Abused

On January 16, 2015, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A deadline of August 3, 2015, was subsequently set for survivors of clergy child sexual abuse, and other creditors, to file a claim in bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy case is currently ongoing and several issues need to be addressed before the case can be resolved.

Our Experience

Jeff Anderson & Associates represents hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse across Minnesota and has for almost 30 years. Having represented clergy abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcies in states such as Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware, we bring valuable experience and understanding to the bankruptcy and can help support your claim.

Our lawyers are experienced Minnesota litigators who have had proven success in removing barriers that in the past prevented adult victims of childhood clergy abuse from seeking justice. Within the last two years under the Child Victims Act, Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with numerous courageous survivors, were able to force the Archdiocese to publicly release the names of over 60 priests accused of child sexual abuse and release thousands of pages of internal church documents; we have also made the top officials and perpetrators in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis answer questions under oath about clergy sexual abuse.

In October 2013, as a result of the settlement of the Doe 1 v. Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, et al., case, the Archdiocese agreed to disclose additional names of clerics with substantiated claims of child sexual abuse. The Doe 1 lawsuit was filed in July 2013 under a Minnesota law, the Child Victims Act, passed by the Minnesota legislature in May 2013. This law created a three-year window for sexual abuse survivors to file claims for the abuse they suffered as children. This window closes on May 25, 2016.

Beginning in December 2013, the Archdiocese began publicly naming clergy members with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors. Additional names were made public in February, May and October of 2014 and in February 2015. To-date, 68 clergy members have been named as having substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor.

As a result of the Archdiocese’s failure to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm done to three abuse victims of Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer, the Archdiocese was criminally charged on June 5, 2015. The case is ongoing in Ramsey County District Court and is only the second time a United States diocese has been criminally charged.

Our Commitment

Jeff Anderson & Associates is recognized as the nation’s premier law firm to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse. We are smart, tough and relentless, but the virtue that ultimately sets us apart is our compassion. We are people who feel deeply and work tirelessly in response to an unjust world. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to meet each client’s unique needs while we support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

All of the survivors who came forward in the Archdiocese bankruptcy have enhanced the effort to hold abusers and the institutions that protected them and covered up their crimes accountable. Also, and just as importantly, they are raising awareness and protecting future generations of children from abuse.

Diocese of Duluth

What it Means for Someone Who Has Been Abused

On December 7, 2015, the Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. If you, or someone you know, were sexually abused by a priest, or any other person affiliated with the Diocese of Duluth, the Diocese’s bankruptcy filing provides an opportunity for you to file a claim for compensation—even if in the past you were told you couldn’t. We would like to help you.

In order to preserve your legal rights, you must file a claim by May 25, 2016.

Your Privacy Will be Protected

Be assured that your privacy will be respected and your identity can remain confidential. If a survivor joins this effort and wishes to remain anonymous we can take measures to assure your privacy. We will explain the process and handle your bankruptcy claim on your behalf with no out-of-pocket expense to you.

Our Experience

Jeff Anderson & Associates represents hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse across Minnesota and has for almost 30 years. Having represented clergy abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcies in states such as Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware, we bring valuable experience and understanding to the bankruptcy and can help support your claim.

Our lawyers are experienced Minnesota litigators who have had proven success in removing barriers that in the past prevented adult victims of childhood clergy abuse from seeking justice. Within the last several years under the Child Victims Act, Jeff Anderson & Associates, along with numerous courageous survivors, were able to force the Diocese of Duluth to publicly release the names of over 30 priests accused of child sexual abuse and release internal church documents; we were also able to obtain a jury verdict and judgment against the Diocese of Duluth at trial in October 2015.

Jeff Anderson & Associates has fought on behalf of courageous survivors against the Diocese of Duluth for decades. Jeff Anderson helped survivors file suits against the Diocese of Duluth as early as the 1980s. Since that time, Jeff Anderson has had the honor of working with hundreds of survivors in an effort to force the Diocese of Duluth to come clean.

Our Commitment

Jeff Anderson & Associates is recognized as the nation’s premier law firm to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse. We are smart, tough and relentless, but the virtue that ultimately sets us apart is our compassion. We are people who feel deeply and work tirelessly in response to an unjust world. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to meet each client’s unique needs while we support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

Filing a Claim in the Duluth Bankruptcy Can Help You and Help Protect Children

Adding your voice as one of many survivors who have and will come forward in the Diocese of Duluth bankruptcy will not only enhance the effort to hold abusers and the institutions that protected them and covered up their crimes accountable, but just as importantly, will raise awareness and protect future generations of children from abuse.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why should I consider taking legal action for something that happened to me many years ago?

Unfortunately, many victims of sexual abuse are not able to connect the emotional and psychological difficulties they experience in adulthood to the sexual abuse they suffered as a child. Making that connection is often the first step in the healing process. Simply calling or emailing us can help relieve some of the guilt and provide a sense of purpose by holding your abuser and the institution that protected your abuser, accountable for the harm caused to you and so many other survivors.

How long do I have to decide if I want to file a claim?

To-date, the bankruptcy court has not set a deadline for the Diocese of Duluth bankruptcy case but we anticipate that deadline to be set in the upcoming weeks or months.

If I engage Jeff Anderson & Associates will it cost me anything out of my pocket?

No. If you call us we will provide a free and confidential consultation and explain all of your options. If you choose to have us represent you we will handle every aspect of your case.

If I file a claim can I remain anonymous?

Yes. The majority of cases we’ve handled in the thirty years of working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been filed as “John” or “Jane Doe.” The decision to use your name is completely up to you and if you wish, your identity will be kept confidential by your lawyers, the court and the media.

I have been told that the Statute of Limitations prevents me from filing a lawsuit. What’s different now?

A new law allows your claim to proceed even though it may have been previously time-barred. In May 2013 the Minnesota legislature passed, and Governor Dayton signed, the Child Victims Act. This new law creates a three-year window for survivors to file claims for the abuse they suffered as children. The deadline to bring a claim under the Child Victims Act is May 25, 2016.

If I decide to do this it will be hard for me. How will I be supported?

We have worked with survivors of childhood sexual abuse for over thirty years. From the moment you call you will be in the care of people who understand how difficult it is to come forward. We will listen to your story and work tirelessly in response to the injustice you have suffered. We have a reputation for being the best at what we do, and that begins and ends with our ability to support, protect and guide survivors along their journey towards justice and healing.

When I think about the abuse I suffered as a child I’m not sure what to do. Is there someone I can talk to privately that would begin to help me sort things out?

Fortunately the road to healing is paved with a multitude of caring organizations and individuals in your community. If you call or email our office we can refer you to a therapist in your area. In addition, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has multiple chapters in Minnesota and many across the country. A complete list of contact information for SNAP chapter leaders is available at http://www.snapnetwork.org/united_states. Finally, always remember that you are not alone, the abuse you experienced is not your fault, and together with many good people, healing is possible.

Have other dioceses filed for bankruptcy? If so, what has been the result?

Yes. In total, 15 dioceses and religious orders have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2004. Several have been resolved and each has resulted in monetary settlements to survivors. The size of the settlements have varied due to the amount of the debtor’s assets, the number of claims submitted, availability of insurance coverage, and other factors.

BANKRUPTCY BLOG

Next Steps in Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Bankruptcy and Recent Filing by Diocese of Duluth

By: Mike Finnegan - December 8, 2015

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis case is still in mediation with the Archdiocese, the parishes, and their insurance companies. Another mediation session is scheduled for the end of January.

In related news, the Diocese of Duluth also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing came after a survivor of child sexual abuse by Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald obtained a successful jury verdict against the Diocese of Duluth in the first civil trial under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. Even though the Diocese has filed bankruptcy, survivors can still bring a claim against the Diocese and do so confidentially.

Also in the news, the new movie Spotlight has been playing in theaters since November. Based on a true story, Spotlight is about the Boston Globe’s uncovering of the Boston clergy abuse scandal in the early 2000s. The movie stars several major actors and actresses. It is a powerful film portraying the brave survivors who stood up and helped to reveal the horrific problem of clergy sexual abuse within Catholic institutions.

This movie will help shed light on clergy sexual abuse and bring it into the mainstream. It is also a reflection of what survivors have done and will continue doing in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis by holding accountable those responsible for the abuse and helping to ensure it never happens to anyone else.

Finally, we would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and Happy New Year!

What’s next in the Archdiocese bankruptcy

By: Mike Finnegan - August 18, 2015

The deadline to file timely proofs of claim in the Bankruptcy Court has come and gone. In total, over 600 claims were filed against the Archdiocese by the August 3, 2015 deadline. This included 407 abuse survivor claims.

Now that the deadline has passed, mediation will continue with the survivors, the Archdiocese and its insurance companies. In addition, the Archdiocese and its insurers will begin to evaluate and take a closer look at the claims.

Even though the deadline to file timely claims against the Archdiocese has passed, there are several issues remaining in the case. This includes issues such as what assets are available to pay survivors’ claims, whether there is insurance available to pay claims, and in some instances, how to address survivor claims involving the parishes, schools, and religious orders. These issues will take time to address and it could be a while before the case is resolved.

Not only do legal issues remain in the case, but some survivors are experiencing and addressing their own issues after recently sharing their stories (some for the first time) and disclosing the secrets they’ve kept for so long. Survivors represented by our office can contact us to be connected to therapists and other support services while the case proceeds.

One Week Left to File Claims in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis Bankruptcy

By: Mike Finnegan - July 27, 2015

The deadline for clergy sexual abuse survivors to file a claim in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis bankruptcy case is fast approaching. In exactly one week, the court-imposed, August 3, 2015, deadline will be here. Even if you were sexually abused in the past by a member of the clergy and you were told you could not file a claim because the statute of limitations expired, you now have rights and you have a chance to seek justice for the sexual abuse you endured as a child.

Claims can be filed confidentially with the court. No one will know that you are working with our firm or that you have filed a claim, unless you specifically request that the claim be publicly filed. Our firm is experienced in helping survivors of sexual abuse find hope and healing through the legal process. It is our goal to hold those accountable who have failed to protect children and to make our communities safer for our children in the future.

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a priest, teacher, coach, etc. in the Archdiocese, now is the time to take action. Contact us confidentially and speak with one of our experienced advocates who can explain the process to you. Take action before August 3, 2015!

August 3, 2015 Deadline to File Claims Against Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

By: Mike Finnegan - April 16, 2015

Today the Bankruptcy Court set a deadline for survivors of sexual abuse to file their claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Archdiocese asked that all of the abuse survivor claims be filed by August 3, 2015. The survivors opposed the Archdiocese’s request and asked that survivors be given additional time to come forward until May 2016, the end of the Minnesota Child Victims Act.

Ultimately, the Court granted the Archdiocese’s request. This means that sexual abuse survivors with claims against the Archdiocese need to file their claims in bankruptcy court by August 3, 2015. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will begin posting notices about the bankruptcy deadline. We will also be starting an outreach effort to make sure that survivors know of the August 3, 2015 deadline.

Also at the hearing today the bankruptcy court held that all of the survivor claims filed in court will be kept confidential unless a survivor specifically requests that their claim be filed publically. In other words, survivor information will be kept confidential in the bankruptcy process.

If you or someone you know has a claim against the Archdiocese as a result of sexual abuse, you need to act by August 3, 2015, in order to preserve your rights. You can contact our office confidentially for more information about the bankruptcy process.

Meeting of Creditors

By: Mike Finnegan - Feburary 25, 2015

Yesterday was the first meeting of Creditors in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis bankruptcy case. The meeting was an opportunity for us to ask questions about the Archdiocese’s finances of the Archdiocese’s Chief Financial Officer, Tom Mertens, including information about what property the Archdiocese owns, the relationship between the Archdiocese and the parishes, and some of the different funds the Archdiocese manages. This was another step in determining what assets the Archdiocese has available to pay survivors’ claims and to scrutinize the Archdiocese’s assets.

In the meantime, the U.S. Trustee’s office appointed the Creditors Committee last week. The Committee is made up of five individuals with claims against the Archdiocese. These individuals will represent the interests of the abuse survivors in the bankruptcy and will participate in the upcoming mediation on behalf of all the survivors. Our law firm represents four of the committee members regarding their claims against the Archdiocese; however, the Committee will also have its own law firm and attorneys representing them.

There are no other hearings scheduled in the case at this time because of the upcoming mediation.

17 New Names of Accused Priests Released

By: Mike Finnegan - February 11, 2015

Today we released the names of 17 priests accused of sexual abuse or misconduct with a minor in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. These names are new to the public – they have never before been released. Each of the 17 new names have been sent to the Archdiocese and its insurance carriers as part of our effort to inform them of claims we have.

The 17 never-before-released names include the following:

  • Joseph Baglio
  • John Jerome Boxleitner
  • Patrick William Coates
  • Leonard Cowley
  • Alphonsus Ferguson, S.S.C.
  • Thomas Gardner, O.F.M.
  • Jerry Grieman
  • Marvin Klaers
  • James Namie
  • Jerome Plourde, o.s.c.
  • Noel Shaughnessy, O.F.M.
  • Ladislaus Sledz
  • Emil Twardochleb, O.M.I.
  • Joseph Warnemunde
  • Harold Whittet
  • Karl M. Wittman
  • Vincent Worzalla

The full list of Minnesota clergy who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct, with links to information on each, can be found here.

Profile of an Accused Priest:
Jerome Kern

By: Mike Finnegan - January 30, 2015

Jerome Kern is one of the most prolific sexually abusive priests to have worked in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Kern has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of children when he worked as a priest of the Archdiocese from 1966 to 2002. In fact, Kern admitted to sexually abusing children when he was deposed in April 2014 as part of a lawsuit filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.

Kern was ordained in the Archdiocese in 1966, when he began his work as a priest at St. Mark’s in Saint Paul. He later worked in a number of parishes including Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Minnetonka, Saint Dominic in Northfield, and Church of Saint Peter in Forest Lake.

Abuse survivor Al Michaud filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese and Kern in 1993, saying Kern abused him at Immaculate Heart of Mary in the mid-1970s. Before the case settled Kern admitted under oath to sexually abusing Michaud.

Kern’s name was one of 33 released by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on December 3, 2013 as part of the Doe 1 vs. Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis lawsuit. Jeff Anderson & Associates obtained Kern’s priest file that was maintained by the Archdiocese. Jeff Anderson & Associates then released Kern’s file, along with a timeline of his history, his most recent deposition, and video clips from his deposition.


Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel Orders Archdiocese into Mediation

By: Mike Finnegan - January 23, 2015

Tuesday marked the first hearing in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis bankruptcy case. In a move aimed to avoid unnecessary costs and huge lawyer fees, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel ordered the Archdiocese and all parties involved in the bankruptcy into mediation.

Early mediation will allow the Archdiocese and insurance companies a chance to settle claims of clergy abuse survivors before costs swell out of control. Early mediation will also provide greater confidentiality protections for survivors of sexual abuse. Another benefit of early mediation is the possibility that the bankruptcy will be resolved sooner than bankruptcies involving other dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

At the same hearing Judge Kressel held that abuse survivor names and identifying information will be confidential and filed under seal. He also approved motions from the Archdiocese to keep its operations running and maintain its existing accounts.

At Jeff Anderson & Associates we are pleased with Judge Kressel’s order for early mediation and look forward to what we hope will be a fair and speedy resolution of survivor claims.


Bankruptcy Blog

By: Mike Finnegan - January 16, 2015

Welcome to our Bankruptcy Blog. I am an attorney working with Jeff Anderson and a team of lawyers on the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis bankruptcy cases in St. Paul. Our firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, has been working with survivors of clergy sexual abuse for over 30 years.

The purpose of this blog is to be a source of information and commentary on the news coming out of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis bankruptcy court process. As motions are filed by the parties and orders issued from the court, I will provide interpretations of court documents so readers are better able to understand what is happening on a weekly basis.

Current Status

As of today, January 16, 2015, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy process in which the debtor, the Archdiocese, maintains control of its business and property while the court supervises its restructuring and the implementation of a plan to repay creditors. The creditors in this case consist mainly of individual survivors of sexual abuse by priests or other employees of the Archdiocese.

What does this mean for Survivors?

We will file cases on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse who were abused by clergy in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis who we represent. The cases will be filed in bankruptcy court instead of state court. Just because the Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, does not mean that the Archdiocese is or will go out of business. They have filed for reorganization rather than liquidation and will still be operational during and after the bankruptcy. We are experienced in this area of law and have handled several other diocesan bankruptcy cases before.

Claims Bar Date

An important part of this process provides that the court set a “claims bar date,” which is a date marking the deadline by which all survivors must formally file a claim with the court. After the claims bar date, a survivor could be denied any sort of recovery from the Archdiocese. The bankruptcy court has yet to establish a claims bar date but we expect the court to do so in the coming months.

Creditor's Committee

The United States Trustee will appoint members to the creditor’s committee. A creditor’s committee is common in bankruptcy court and serves as a representative body for all creditors. The committee is charged with negotiating with the Archdiocese and creating a plan to repay all creditors. Throughout the process, the creditor’s committee will watch the Archdiocese’s operation, look into its finances, and perform other actions consistent with its reorganization.

New posts will go up as events occur so check back often to find summaries of filings, court orders, meeting notes, and general updates on the court’s progress.

MN ACCUSED

mouseflow.newPageView('/offenders');

Below is a list of clergy in Minnesota who have been accused of inappropriate behavior. They have worked in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Diocese of Crookston; Diocese of Duluth; Diocese of New Ulm; Diocese of St. Cloud; and/or the Diocese of Winona.

If you have information pertaining to any of the individual names listed below, please contact our firm. Your privacy will be respected.