At least a third of the 12 Roman Catholic dioceses in California have either filed for bankruptcy or are contemplating doing so to deal with an influx of lawsuits filed by survivors of childhood sexual abuse after a state law opened a three-year window in which cases were exempted from age limits.
More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church in California under a 2019 state law that also extended the statute of limitations to allow all alleged victims of sexual abuse to sue up to the age of 40.
Advocates have been stunned by the number of cases that surfaced during the window, which closed at the end of December.
So far, two dioceses have declared bankruptcy.
The Diocese of Santa Rosa, which is facing more than 200 lawsuits, filed for bankruptcy in mid-March. In its bankruptcy petition, it claimed assets valued between $10 million and $50 million. It estimated its liabilities in the same dollar range.
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