Harrisburg (PA) Catholic Diocese Declares Bankruptcy After Sex Abuse Lawsuits February 20, 2020

Harrisburg (PA) Catholic Diocese Declares Bankruptcy After Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report detailing the abuses that took place in six of the state’s eight dioceses. They published 884 pages of damning information that implicated hundreds of priests.

Now, the Harrisburg diocese — one of the six covered in that report — has officially declared bankruptcy.

With its filing Wednesday, the Harrisburg Diocese joins more than two dozen others across the United States that have sought similar bankruptcy protections since the clergy sex-abuse scandal first exploded in Boston 18 years ago.

The move comes six months after Bishop Ronald W. Gainer announced that the Harrisburg church had paid out $12.5 million in settlements with more than 100 accusers through an independently run victim compensation fund.

It told the court in its filings Wednesday that it has more than 200 creditors and estimated liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. Of its top 20 creditors, 19 were plaintiffs in sex-abuse cases that remained unresolved in court.

It’s the first diocese in Pennsylvania to go this route, but it almost certainly won’t be the last. While there have already been “more than 100 accusers,” the Church is bracing for hundreds more. And that’s just in that one diocese.

The bankruptcy is bad news for some accusers who chose not to participate in the compensation fund. There’s no telling how much they’ll be able to get now. Still, it’s bad news for the Church. And right now, that’s good news for anyone who cares about the safety of children and the trauma that abuse brings.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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