‘Dangerous and deceptive.’ Attorney for clergy abuse survivors reacts to Diocese of Camden reorganization plan
An attorney for the survivors of alleged sex abuse at the hands of clergy says that the Diocese of Camden filing a reorganization plan in bankruptcy court on New Year’s Eve is “dangerous,” “deceptive” and “dastardly.”
In a virtual news conference Monday, attorney Jeff Anderson said that the diocese’s plan will help keep offenders’ identities under wraps.
“Because the plan cuts off the rights of the survivors to sue in court, and it is in court where those names of those offenders protected by the bishops and the parishes for so long can be revealed,” Anderson said.
The Chapter 11 filing also means a date for when survivors’ claims can be filed by will be chosen. It could be earlier than the state’s Nov. 30 deadline.
“We know survivors need time to come to grips with the truth of their own reality and who have suffered in secrecy, in silence and shame for decades, and to even come forward to an attorney and to make a claim takes time,” Anderson said. “And they know if they’re allowed to shorten the time frame, it will reduce the number of claims made.”
In a statement explaining the decision to move along the process, the diocese said, "The average claim against the Diocese has been settled for approx. $115,000 and now is the time to determine how many claims remain. Plaintiffs' lawyers have been advertising extensively so any claimant who wishes to come forward is well-aware of the Chapter 11 process and should be given that opportunity now."
The diocese says that the next step in the process is a hearing on the plan in bankruptcy court, to be held on Feb. 4.