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June 06, 2016

Abuse Claimants Seek Access to Minn. Diocese’s Charity Assets

The federal judge overseeing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’s bankruptcy is weighing a call by victims of clergy sexual abuse to include hundreds of millions of dollars from church-affiliated charities among its assets, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The archdiocese has proposed setting aside at least $65 million to help compensate about 450 victims. Lawyers for the victims say the archdiocese is significantly undervaluing its assets by not including hundreds of related but legally distinct entities such as schools, parishes, and charitable foundations that they claim are effectively controlled by the archbishop.

Such a finding could force the archdiocese to pay substantially more in compensation to abuse victims. However, at a bankruptcy-court hearing last week, Judge Robert Kressel questioned whether the consolidation request could run afoul of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.