Sex Abuse Victims Seek to Testify in Baltimore Archdiocese Bankruptcy Case

The committee representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s bankruptcy case is seeking to give victims an opportunity to tell their stories in court.

In a legal brief filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore, attorneys for the group of survivors representing all of the diocese’s victims, known as the Creditors Committee, asked a judge to allow survivors to give testimony about their abuse over several hours during hearings in April and May.

The Baltimore diocese, America’s oldest, declared bankruptcy on the eve of Maryland’s Child Victims Act, which lifted a longstanding time limit for abuse survivors to sue perpetrators and the institutions that enabled their torment, taking effect Oct. 1. Survivor advocates had long fought to pass the law, eventually overcoming a strong lobbying effort from the church.

Bankruptcy was a strategic decision from the church to limit its liability and protect its assets. The move, however, also allowed the church to effectively sidestep an expected flood of lawsuits under the victims act. As a result, instead of abuse allegations being made in public lawsuits in state court, they now must be filed as claims in the bankruptcy proceedings. They may or may not be made public before they are evaluated by experts and assigned a dollar amount based on the extent of their suffering.

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