Archdiocese of Baltimore Files for Bankruptcy

Posted on: March 14, 2024 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

Just days before the Child Victims Act of 2023 was set to become law in Maryland, the Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court. The new law will remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, as well as open a revival window for claims of childhood sexual abuse which are currently time-barred. However, the bankruptcy filing immediately stops clergy sex abuse survivors from filing lawsuits against the archdiocese, and any of its parishes, in state court.

Technically, filing for bankruptcy also makes the new law meaningless for victims planning to sue the archdiocese. Instead of having a limitless amount of time to file a claim, with a bankruptcy filing, a judge sets the deadline as to when all claims against the archdiocese would need to be filed. This flies directly in the face of one of the reasons the Child Victims Act of 2023 was passed in the first place. Several studies have shown survivors of childhood sexual abuse often need decades before they feel comfortable sharing their stories of abuse. Laws opening revival windows, or removing the statute of limitations completely, give survivors of childhood sexual abuse that time. Filing for bankruptcy and having a judge set a deadline takes that time away, meaning less victims of Maryland clergy sex abuse may come forward.

In late December, the bankruptcy judge set the filing deadline for May 31, 2024. This means that Archdiocese of Baltimore clergy sex abuse survivors only have until this date to file a claim. After that date, they may be forever barred from filing a claim against the archdiocese. Originally, attorneys for the archdiocese requested a deadline at the end of February, which would have been about 150 days after the bankruptcy filing. This would have been almost three months shorter than the average time allowed to file in the 35 other dioceses’ bankruptcy proceedings. Both the filing and the request for an early deadline clearly show that the archdiocese is seeking to protect itself and not the hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The entire article can be viewed here.

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