San Diego Becomes First U.S. Diocese to File Bankruptcy TWICE Due To Sexual Abuse Claims

The Diocese of San Diego filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the latest U.S. diocese to do so in response to hundreds of sexual abuse allegations leveled against it.

San Diego bishop Cardinal Robert McElroy said in February 2023 that the diocese was considering declaring bankruptcy due to the “staggering” legal costs of responding to 400 new lawsuits brought during a three-year statewide expansion of the statute of limitations for child abuse cases.

In a letter to the diocese on Thursday, McElroy said that diocesan leaders have spent the past 16 months reviewing the abuse cases and that the diocese has “come to the conclusion that this is the moment to enter formally into bankruptcy and continue negotiations as part of the bankruptcy process.”

The bankruptcy filing, the cardinal said, was motivated by “the need for just compensation for victims of sexual abuse” as well as “the need to continue the Church’s mission of education, pastoral service, and outreach to the poor and the marginalized.”

McElroy pointed out that the diocese has already paid out a major sum stemming from a 2007 bankruptcy filing over other sex abuse cases.

The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing this week “will achieve a definite conclusion to its legal liability for past claims of sexual abuse in the settlement we hope to reach in bankruptcy,” the prelate said.

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