Victims: Archdiocese's bankruptcy plan 'selfish', 'insulting'

CREATED Feb 12, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 12, 2014

  • Print

MILWAUKEE - Big developments in the priest sex abuse scandal.  The Milwaukee Archdiocese filed its bankruptcy re-organization plan setting aside just four million dollars for sex abuse victims.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki was asked if this plan goes far enough: "It goes far enough in the sense of the responsibility, yes.  but can anything ever go far enough? Can anything ever restore that which is lost?"
Here are the key numbers: The archdiocese estimates 125 victims will be eligible for the $4 million. $500,000 goes to a lifetime therapy fund for all victims. 
The church will borrow $2 million from the cemetery fund to pay for legal fees. That leaves the archdiocese with a $7 million in debt. 
The Milwaukee Archdiocese has paid out $33 million to settle previous priest sex abuse cases. 
This time they are offering $4 million and the number of claims is much higher.
"This is a very bad day for survivors," said Monica Barrett.
She says she was raped by a priest years ago. The journey to find justice has been long and lonely with many setbacks.   
"It's much like being raped all over again because we have had to fight for decades to even get to this point," said Barrett. 
The $4 million offer to end the bankruptcy battle would average about  $7,000  per person if each of the 575 claims are paid.
The archdiocese estimates about 125 abuse survivors are eligible for the money. That averages $32,000 per person. 
Either way, victims say it sends the wrong message.
"You are worthless, you are unimportant you are nothing to us. That is what this is communicating, said Peter Isely, Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The archdiocese says it has paid out more than $11 million in legal fees - including millions to survivors' lawyers who were chasing assets and money the church claimed didn't belong to the archdiocese. 
Survivors say church lawyers got rich trying to deny claims.
"We're just a problem for them," said abuse survivor Michael Sneesby. "They'd like to sweep us under a carpet and not let us crawl out."
Abuse survivors are also upset that the $500,000 therapy fund isn't enough money. But the archdiocese tells TODAY'S TMJ4 no one will be denied therapy, the fund is not capped and will be available as long as necessary.