Abuse victims reject latest Wilmington diocese offer

The Wilmington diocese has proposed a deal  to pay $74 million as a way to end more than 150 sexual-abuse lawsuits and also get the diocese of bankruptcy.  Several parties connected to the suit aren’t happy with it.

Tom Neuberger, an attorney for several of the defendants calls the offer “cheap and misleading.”  The deal would offer to pay an average of $750,000 to 150 victims.  That’s up from a previous offer of $349,000.  Neuberger says the offer violates ” an agreement between now deceased Bishop Michael Saltarelli and me to pay an average of $1.2 million each to an expected class of over 250 survivors from a fund of $300 million.”

The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington also rejects the offer.  That group represents 150 victims who say they were abused by diocesan priests.  “The latest reorganization plan is the Diocese’s dictatorial and highhanded effort to impose a nonconsensual solution to its sordid history of facilitating and tolerating sexual abuse of the children of the Diocese. Critically, the amended plan does not represent a sincere effort to disclose documents that demonstrate the sordid history of abuse in the Diocese” said John Vai, co-chairman of the Committee said in a written statement.

The News Journal reports: “The diocese is able to drastically increase the money available to resolve claims by essentially dissolving a foundation established to benefit the Wilmington Diocese more than 80 years ago by John J. Raskob, “the wealthiest Catholic in the nation.” Raskob, whose estate was donated to start Archmere Academy, built the Empire State Building.” 

The deal must be approved by a majority of those involved in cases against the diocese.  Neuberger’s statement would indicate that won’t happen with this offer. In his statement Neuberger said Francis Malooly in October 2009 called the Wilmington church had a  “‘moral obligation’ ‘to fairly compensate all abuse victims’ and ‘see to their healing.’

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