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Milwaukee Archdiocese has paid $19M in legal fees for bankruptcy case

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - The Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese has paid $19 million in legal fees for its three-year-old bankruptcy case.

And if a judge won't accept the church's financial reorganization plan, it could cost them another $13 million in payouts. That's according to the plan that was filed yesterday in a federal bankruptcy court.

About 125 victims of sex abuse by clergy members would share $4 million -- by far the lowest among 11 similar bankruptcy cases involving Catholic sectors around the country. The Milwaukee Archdiocese intends to compensate only about a quarter of the 575 victims who filed claims.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki said more funds could be made available by suing insurance companies who represent some of the victims. Those victims were hoping to tap into $100 million in church trust funds and parish assets.

The Archdiocese, however, insisted that local church coffers are off limits -- and a judge said they could not tap into the church's $57 million fund to maintain Catholic cemeteries. The church plans to borrow $2 million from the cemetery fund to pay part of its legal bills.

Victim advocacy groups were outraged by the church's settlement offer. Attorney Jeff Anderson said he's never seen a bishop or diocese that's, "more purposeful in pouring salt in the wounds of survivors."

Listecki said the church is insolvent, and no amount of money will satisfy the victims -- even though he does recognize their, "tremendous hurt."

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)