Jeffrey Anderson accuses bankrupt Wis. archdiocese of concealing abusers' names

Jeffrey Anderson, the St. Paul attorney tracking down Catholic priest sex abusers, says the Milwaukee Archdiocese's recent declaration of bankruptcy is an attempt to avoid being forced to reveal the abusers' names.

"My office represents all 23 of the cases against the Milwaukee Diocese and in the mediation the number one priority was getting the Archdiocese to open their files," he said after the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 protection.

"Incredibly, the Archbishop's announcement left out the most important reason they filed for bankruptcy: To delay the legal process so they don't have to reveal the names of the "priest-predators" and the Church officials who covered up the "priest-predators'" crimes."

One priest in the archdiocese, Rev. Lawrence Murphy, sexually abused about 200 boys at a suburban school for deaf students for 24 years, starting in 1950. The New York Times revealed in March that the future Pope Benedict XVI did not defrock Murphy, despite warnings from several American bishops.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court turned back a challenge by the Catholic Church claiming that it was immune from U.S. lawsuits. That decision cleared the way for Anderson to sue the Vatican on behalf of sex abuse victims.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki stated the day of the filing that the archdiocese made the move to make sure priest abuse victims could be fairly compensated. But he alluded to the mediation:

"This action is occurring because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors, going against everything the church and the priesthood represents," Listecki said. "Financial claims pending against the archdiocese's means, recent failure to reach a mediated resolution with victims/survivors involved in lawsuits against the archdiocese, along with the November court decision that insurance companies are not bound to contribute to any financial settlement, made it clear that reorganization is the best way to fairly and equitably fulfill obligations."

Anderson says depositions with key archdiocese officials were scheduled to begin soon. The bankruptcy filing delays that action. But not forever.

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