The Day – Diocese of Norwich expects to have proposed bankruptcy plan by April 1




A lawyer for the Diocese of Norwich told a federal bankruptcy court judge on Wednesday that he plans to file a draft bankruptcy plan by April 1 to resolve the claims of at least 70 people who say they have been assaulted sexually by priests and employees affiliated with the diocese.

During the remote hearing before Judge James Tancredi, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Diocese and the committee representing the plaintiffs also agreed to a plan that would temporarily limit the large sums spent by the diocese on legal service fees and financial. In recent months, lawyers for the alleged victims – along with Tancredi – have expressed concern that the millions of dollars in fees will reduce the money that will eventually be available to be distributed to victims.

Tancredi told lawyers on Wednesday that one of the worst experiences for a judge or lawyer is to find that the “wallet is empty” for victims because legal fees have depleted assets and there is no way to get them back.

“I will work to prevent this,” he reiterated.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July as it faced more than 60 lawsuits from young men accused of being sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers and other members of the Staff of Mount Saint John Academy, operated by the Diocese of Deep River from 1990 to 2002. Mount Saint John was a boarding school for troubled boys with a board of directors headed by retired Bishop of Norwich Daniel Reilly. Since then, others whose sexual assault allegations involved not only Mount Saint John but also diocesan churches have filed claims in the bankruptcy case.

Victims have until March 15, 2022 to file a complaint. These claims are not limited to those who have frequented Mount Saint John, but can be brought by anyone who has been sexually assaulted by diocesan priests or other employees. Information on how to file a claim and on the bankruptcy case can be found at bit.ly/ndbclaims or by calling 1 (855) 654-0902.

The bankruptcy process, which freezes lawsuits against the diocese, will determine the assets of the diocese and how much each victim will receive in damages. The 51 parishes of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich are now seeking to join the diocese in seeking bankruptcy protection against sexual abuse claims and will have to contribute funds to the settlement. This would prevent victims from suing parishes in the future.

Diocese lawyer Louis DeLucia told Tancredi on Wednesday that it was difficult to assess the amount of claims presented before the March 15 deadline. He said the diocese must also determine the value of the 14 properties it owns, as well as how much the parishes will have to contribute to the victims’ fund.

Last month, Tancredi extended the diocese’s exclusive right to file a plan until February and scheduled a hearing on Jan.31 to discuss progress.

But Stephen Kindseth, one of the lawyers for the victims committee, told Tancredi the committee would have its own plan to table by mid-January. He said the plan would speed up the process and significantly reduce legal costs, preserving victims’ assets by giving the “heavy lifting” of the case to a liquidation trustee.

DeLucia objected to the committee’s tabling of a plan and Tancredi urged both sides to reach consensus.

The Diocese and Victims Committee have agreed on a plan that would allow lawyers and financial services companies to receive 70% of their fees now, with the remaining 30% withheld until the judge determines what assets are available. . In addition, lawyers in the diocese, who earn up to $ 835 an hour, and financial experts have reduced their fees by 10%. Lawyers for the victims committee, firm Zeisler and Zeisler in Bridgeport, have already reduced their rates by 10% and are charging about half the hourly price of some of the lawyers in the diocese.

DeLucia said focusing on the costs and fighting for them “is not where the battle should be”. Instead, he told Tancredi the battle should be over “more meritorious matters.”

At stake is roughly $ 1.3 million in fees spent over a period this fall. Overall, the diocese has accumulated a forecast of $ 2.7 million in legal and financial service spending related to bankruptcy.

Lawyers for the US trustee have objected to the restraint plan review process and Tancredi has given them until next week to file their written arguments.

j.wojtas@theday.com


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