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Listecki asking federal bankruptcy court to bar majority of victims from filing abuse claims

November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011

Instead, he wants to unilaterally determine victim damages, restitution and treatment in church run “therapy” program

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director

CONTACT: 414.429.7259

It is appropriate that today, as the Child Victims Act is being introduced in Madison, that lawyers for Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki are making yet another cynical attempt at preventing sexual assault victims by clergy from having their day in court.

When Listecki put the archdiocese into chapter 11 in January, he did so because he was facing mounting and successful civil fraud claims against the archdiocese for deliberately concealing and transferring known child molesters. Filing for bankruptcy, under federal bankruptcy rules, effectively froze those civil cases, which is why he filed in the first place. Instead, Listecki publicly called for all survivors of rape and sexual assault by clergy of the archdiocese to come forward by February 1st, 2012 and file claims with the federal court, allowing all sides to let the federal judge determine what is a fair and equitable restitution for the crimes committed by clergy against children.

Now, in an email sent this week to Catholics, Listecki wants the court to throw out the majority of claims by the very victims he called forward. Instead, he wants to replace court ordered restitution with a church run “therapy” program or fund. In other words, Listecki wants to force victims to once again turn, not to the courts for justice, but to the very institution that so deeply harmed and betrayed them.

In fact, the last attempt by the archdiocese at its own solution was the archdiocesan controlled “mediation” program. That program was reviewed by Judge Kelly in June, when she heard testimony from several victims who underwent the solution the archdiocese is, once again, proposing. One victim, for instance, described in tearful detail how, as a prerequisite to receive any assistance from the archdiocese, she had to travel to the church grade school where she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted and point out to a diocesan official each room and every hallway where she had been molested by the priest.

Kelly concluded that, at best, the so-called mediation program run by the archdiocese was “inept” and “not at all” what the archdiocese had described to her. So, she ordered it shut down.

Instead of promoting the participation of victims and their families in the federal court process, as Listecki initially promised he would do, he is signaling to them that he and his lawyers will attempt to find every avenue possible to deny the admissibility of their legitimate claim. It is deeply disturbing that he would do this when there are only two months left before the doors to the courthouse are officially closed to victim/survivors on February 1st.

Listecki should immediately inform Catholics and the community, and renew his promise, that all victim/survivors of childhood rape and assault by clergy in the archdiocese should come forward to file a claim before the bar date of February 1, 2012. Period. And then let the court do its job.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers.


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