Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims: Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean when a Diocese files bankruptcy?
In prior bankruptcies, dioceses and religious orders have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. This is not a liquidation (as is common in Chapter 7 bankruptcy) and survivors can still proceed with legal claims for childhood sexual abuse.
Have other dioceses filed for bankruptcy? If so, what has been the result?
Yes. As of October 2019, 23 Catholic 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 has varied due to the amount of the debtor’s assets, the number of claims submitted, availability of insurance coverage, and other factors.
Now that the Diocese has filed bankruptcy, do I still have a legal claim? Will you still represent me?
Yes. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse you can file what’s called a “proof of claim” in the bankruptcy proceedings. This is not a class action lawsuit. Every survivor will have his or her own proof of claim.
How long do I have to decide if I want to file a claim?
The bankruptcy court will set a deadline called a “bar date.” This will be the last date that a survivor can file a claim in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Can I remain anonymous if I choose to file a claim?
Yes. The majority of cases we’ve handled in our 35+ years of working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been filed as “John Done” or “Jane Doe.” The decision to use your name is completely up to you. If you wish, your identity will be kept confidential by your lawyers, the court and the media.
If the diocese files for bankruptcy, can I still obtain documents and information on the perpetrator who sexually abused me?
In prior bankruptcies, sexual abuse survivors have negotiated non-economic settlement terms and disclosures as part of the reorganization plan.
If I file a claim, will the diocese, its parishes or its schools be forced to close?
This has not happened in the other diocesan or religious order bankruptcies.
I have been told that the Statute of Limitations prevents me from filing a lawsuit. What’s different now?
Laws and circumstances allowing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit change. If an entity files for bankruptcy, this could be the last opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice.
Why should I consider taking legal action for something that happened to me many years ago?
Unfortunately, many survivors 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 burden and provide a sense of purpose by taking action to hold your abuser and the institution that protected your abuser accountable for the harm caused to you and so many other survivors.
If I decide to do this will it be difficult for me? How will I be supported?
We have worked with survivors of childhood sexual abuse for over 35 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. Please remember that you are not alone, the abuse you experienced is not your fault, and together with many good people, healing is possible.
Will engaging with Jeff Anderson & Associates 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.
You are not alone. We are here to help.
Before making a decision concerning such serious and sensitive matters, we encourage all survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, coaches or other authority figures to consult with legal counsel before proceeding with a claim. Our law firm of legal professionals and advocates has more than three decades of experience working with survivors of sexual abuse and litigating cases against perpetrators of sexual abuse and the institutions that protect them. Contact us today.