Funds for Alaska’s clergy abuse victims OK’d

Associated Press / January 27, 2010

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A judge has approved the final details of a bankruptcy plan revision for the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese that will help compensate sexual abuse victims.

US Bankruptcy Court Judge Donald McDonald approved the reorganization plan at a hearing Monday in Anchorage. It was the third revision negotiated over nearly two years by the diocese and a creditors’ committee representing nearly 300 abuse victims.

The plan, expected to be signed by the judge within two weeks, provides $9.8 million in compensation to be divided among the victims.

Ken Roosa, an Anchorage lawyer who has represented most of the victims for the past seven years, said he still expects lengthy court action with two insurance companies: Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and Travelers Casualty and Surety Co.

“This is no huge milestone, just another step along the path,’’ Roosa said.

The diocese raised the money primarily by selling its properties to its own endowment fund. Its 46 parishes contributed $650,000, and Alaska National Insurance Co. added $1.4 million.

The money will be distributed by a court-appointed settlement trustee on a case-by-case basis, said James Stang, attorney for the creditors committee.

The settlement also requires Bishop Donald Kettler to travel for the next 18 months to small communities throughout the diocese to apologize to surviving victims and conduct healing ceremonies.

The diocese also must issue a general letter of apology and post names of accused abusers on its website. That list will include the names of priests, deacons, nuns, brothers, and church volunteers, both living and dead.