Crookston Diocese announces $5 million settlement with sexual abuse survivors

| Janelle C. Gergen | July 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Diocese of Crookston said July 17 it has reached a $5 million settlement with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The settlement resolves 15 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse filed between April 2016 and May 2017, after the Minnesota Child Victims Act lifted for three years the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, allowing victims/survivors to file civil claims.

The agreement also settles cases brought against eight parishes that were filed in conjunction with the cases against the diocese, Bishop Michael Hoeppner said in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.

“To all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, as the bishop of Crookston I apologize for the harm done to you by those entrusted with your spiritual care,” Bishop Hoeppner said.

“Although you can never be fully compensated for your suffering, we are thankful this litigation has now come to a good end and are hopeful this settlement offers you justice and will be helpful for healing,” the bishop said.

“To you, the faithful of this local Church, I say thank you for your continued prayer: for victims of sexual abuse; for a fair resolve to these cases,” he wrote. “Let us all now, humbly, offer prayers of thanksgiving.”

Insurance covered most of the settlement costs, while $1.55 million came from selling Camp Corbett (Big Elbow Lake, Becker County) in 2018 and Holy Spirit Newman Center (Bemidji) in 2016, as well as two non-restricted estate gifts in 2017 and funds the diocese has on hand.

Also in preparation for the settlement, two open staff positions were not filled. No diocesan annual appeal funds or loans were used, the diocese said.

The settlement also allowed the diocese to avoid bankruptcy protection. All other dioceses in Minnesota have filed or announced their intent to file for financial reorganization in recent years.

The diocese will not experience layoffs, the bishop said, and it can continue its mission of bringing the good news of Christ to people in the 14 northwest counties of Minnesota.

Gergen is editor of Our Northland Diocese, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Crookston

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