SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco announced Monday that it would be filing for bankruptcy to facilitate settlements with survivors of child sexual abuse. The filing is necessary to manage and resolve more than 500 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse brought against the archdiocese under California Assembly Bill 218.
AB 218, which was approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October of 2019 allows decades-old claims that would otherwise be time barred to be filed by Dec. 31, 2022. According to the archdiocese, the majority of the 500 outstanding claims stem from sexual abuse allegations that occurred more than 30 years ago. Those cases involve priests who are no longer active, or are deceased, the archdiocese said.
This marks the second time the state has allowed time-barred or expired cases of child sexual abuse to be filed by survivors. California created a similar window in 2003. Since that time, the RCASF has paid more than $70 million to survivors in legal settlements.
“The unfortunate reality is that the Archdiocese has neither the financial means nor the practical ability to litigate all of these abuse claims individually, and therefore, after much consideration, concluded that the bankruptcy process was the best solution for providing fair and equitable compensation to the innocent survivors who have been harmed,” said The Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco. “It is the best way to bring much-needed resolution to survivors while allowing the Archdiocese to continue its sacred mission to the faithful and those in need.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – or “SNAP” – responded, saying only the California diocese has refused to post a list of abusers, and they claim the move is solely to protect the information of any perpetrators from being further revealed because court proceedings in lawsuits of alleged child abuse will be on pause.
“I don’t believe that the archbishop is doing this because that’s what’s best for the survivors who filed lawsuits. He’s doing it because it will help to protect the secrets that the archdiocese has kept hidden,” said Melanue Sakoda with SNAP.
Archdiocese employees will be paid as usual and benefits will continue uninterrupted, according to the RCASF.
RCASF’s Chapter 11 case has been filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.
SF Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was in the headlines last year when be barred then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion at the archdiocese.