Sexual Abuse Victims Accept Settlement Offer of Gallup Diocese

by San Antonio Attorney

Court documents show that the victims of clergy sexual abuse have unanimously approved the diocese’s plan.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico, has obtained a court’s confirmation on its compensation plan for sexual abuse victims of clergies, which allows the church to emerge from bankruptcy.

After a court hearing, Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma approved the $25 million compensation plan, which will be funded by financial supports from the parishes, insurance carriers, diocese and sales of assets.

According to the diocese’s attorney, Susan Boswell, the majority of the money will be paid to the victims.  The diocese has been sued by 57 victims, but not all of them will get a payout due to previous settlements.

Judge Thuma said that the amount of money is a good settlement for the abuse victims.

Under the proposed plan, the diocese, as well as its contributors, is protected from potential future legal actions related to precedent sexual abuse.

So far, a total of fifteen Catholic religious orders and dioceses have sought for bankruptcy protection to come up with similar plans to deal with the overwhelming financial load of escalating number of sexual-abuse lawsuits.

According to Boswell, she wants the case to end as soon as possible so they can avoid incurring more legal bills, which is estimated to reach $3.5 million.  The case has been dragged for over 2 1/2 years.  The claims of victims are subject the assessment of an expert, who will determine the amount of money they will get.

James Stang, a legal representative of the victims, said during the court hearing that the victims’ monetary compensation from the archdiocese is not enough, because their experience of abuse cannot be undone.

In line to that, the diocese will provide non-monetary concessions, which include listing on this website the names of priests involved in reasonable allegations of abuse.  The bishop is also required to write a letter of apology to all victims and to conduct a private meeting with victims who asks for it.

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