ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud in Minnesota will pay sexual abuse victims $22.5 million and file for bankruptcy, according to a settlement agreement.
Some 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases that date back to the 1950s. If the bankruptcy plan is approved, the diocese will become the fifth of Minnesota’s six dioceses to settle its clergy abuse claims and declare bankruptcy.
Attorney Jeff Anderson negotiated the settlement agreement and terms were announced Tuesday. He said it gives validation to the victims, some of whom Anderson first represented in lawsuits filed in the 1980s, the Star Tribune reported.
“Every single survivor with whom we worked has felt some measure of recovery of power by having come forward to share secrets,” Anderson said. “We believe they have made the community safer because of it, and they have been a part of a massive cleanup of a massive coverup in the Diocese of St. Cloud. It has been a journey born of great tribulation.”
St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler said in a statement that he apologized on “behalf of the Church for the harm" that victims suffered. Kettler said he hoped the settlement will help heal the victims of abuse.
The Diocese of Saint Cloud includes 16 central Minnesota counties, including some of the state’s most rural areas.