Judge Denies Diocese Access to Needy Children’s Fund to Pay Abuse Claims

Judge shuts-down Bishop Zubik’s attempt to raid needy children’s fund to pay for sexual abuse

A judge has denied a petition by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to use an $8 million-plus fund for needy children to help pay compensation for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Allegheny County Orphans’ Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Toole denied the petition in a brief order entered late last week. He did not elaborate on the reasons for his decision.

But it followed a challenge by the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, which regulates charitable trusts and which criticized as “self-dealing” the diocese’s request to use a dedicated charitable fund to pay legal liabilities.

The Toner Institute Trust Fund was set up more than a century ago by a donor, James L. Toner, to fund an industrial school for boys. When such institutions became obsolete, the Toner Fund was merged in 1978 with the diocesan-affiliated Catholic Institute of Pittsburgh for the official purpose of providing “for the care, education, training, maintenance and treatment of neglected, emotionally disabled and needy children in order to assist them to make an adjustment to life and work in accordance with their abilities.”

Read more at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette