Lawyers want to lift bankruptcy stay against Diocese of Wilmington

    A Delaware woman wants an automatic bankruptcy stay against the Diocese of Wilmington lifted so she can reopen a lawsuit filed by her late husband against the church.

    Lawyers representing a victim of priest sex abuse are asking a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware to lift the automatic stay that was implemented when the Diocese of Wilmington filed for bankruptcy last week.  That stay prevents creditors, like abuse victims who’ve won settlements from the Diocese, from taking any action to collect.

    Stephen Neuberger says they’re asking for the stay to be lifted because the church has not complied with terms of a settlement reached in a sexual abuse case involving Doug McClure.  In April, the Diocese settled with McClure, agreeing to pay $1.5 million and, more importantly according to Neuberger, agreeing to write letters of apology to McClure.  “These compassionate letters of apology were a key and hard fought for settlement term, without which the cases would never would have settled.”  McClure died shortly after the settlement agreement was signed.

    The Diocese of Wilmington filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy just before the start of the first of many sexual abuse lawsuit cases went to court.  According to the filing, the Diocese had assets of as much as $100 million, while facing liabilities of as much as $500 million.

    In response to today’s filing, Diocese spokesman Bob Krebs issued the following statement:

    “The Diocese of Wilmington did make a formal, public apology by way of a news release that was distributed and posted on the Diocese of Wilmington’s website on April 8, 2009.  Private letters were not sent because of the death of Mr. McClure soon after the settlement.  Those letters will now be sent to Mrs. McClure. The diocese apologies to Mrs. McClure and her family for the oversight.”

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