Winona-Rochester Diocese announces $21.5 million settlement with 145 sexual abuse survivors
WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — Winona-Rochester Bishop John M. Quinn expressed hope that a $21.5 million settlement with 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse “will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years.”
The settlement with the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors representing the 145 people, which the diocese announced Wednesday, “includes resolution of claims against the parishes, schools and other Catholic entities within the diocese,” according to a diocesan news release.
“On behalf of the diocese, I want to express my sincere apology to all those who have been affected by sexual abuse in our diocese,” Quinn said. “I pledge my continuing commitment to ensure that this terrible chapter in the history of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester never happens again.”
The settlement will allow the diocese to submit a reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, according to the release.
The agreement also provides for future action against additional insurance carriers that provided coverage to the diocese in the 1960s and 1970s, the diocese’s news release said. Claims from that time period with those insurance carriers are unresolved and additional compensation to the survivors may be recovered, according to the diocese.
The Winona-Rochester Diocese filed a petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in November 2018. Under the supervision of the federal bankruptcy court, the diocese has worked with representatives of survivors to resolve claims.
The claims were filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on historical childhood sexual abuse claims for a three-year period ending in May 2016.
Since the implementation of its safe environment program, the diocese has conducted more than 44,000 background checks. In addition, 16,000 clergy, teachers, staff and volunteers have completed its VIRTUS safe environment training.
“We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority,” Quinn said. “We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.”
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