Diocese of Oakland Files for Bankruptcy

Posted on: May 25, 2023 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

Earlier this month, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland issued a press release stating that the Diocese of Oakland would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The release cites the more than 330 lawsuits filed against the diocese alleging clergy sexual abuse as the reason for the bankruptcy. The Diocese of Oakland is not the first diocese in California to use the bankruptcy laws to protect itself and its assets. Previously, the Diocese of San Diego considered bankruptcy protection as a way to continue to operate and still deal with the enormous legal costs of defending hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits.

In the release, the bishop says that the lawsuits came as a result of California opening a revival window for child sex abuse claims. While that window to bring previously expired claims of child sexual abuse has since closed, hundreds of people used the window to file claims against the Diocese of Oakland. The bishop is claiming that most of the sexual abuse allegations are from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and are against priests who are either no longer active or have passed away. These are exactly the types of claims a revival window should generate. Several studies have shown that survivors of childhood sexual abuse may need decades before they are ready to come forward about being abused. Revival windows give these victims the opportunity to do so.

Diocese of Oakland leader Bishop Michael C. Barber maintains that the bankruptcy will allow for the evaluation of the merits of the alleged sexual abuse claims and, “is the best way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for survivors.” While attorneys for some survivors believe this may be a step towards getting some accountability and compensation for their clients, other survivors are skeptical of the diocese’s motives. This is especially true since the Diocese of San Diego was accused of hiding assets prior to filing for bankruptcy.

The entire article can be viewed here.

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