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Friday, August 26, 2005

The bishop strikes out

A bankruptcy judge in Spokane has ruled that all of the property in the name of the Catholic bishop up there is subject to the claims of alleged victims of priestly sexual abuse. Thus, the court has squarely rejected the church's attempt to hold back valuable real estate and other assets from the victims on the theory that they're held in trust for the faithful.

It's the same theory that the Archdiocese of Portland is trying to hide behind. The Spokane judge's ruling is not binding in the Portland case, but it will likely be influential. Both cases would ultimately be appealed to the same federal appeals court, the Ninth Circuit. (First the Spokane ruling would go through the federal district court for Eastern Washington.) In the end, the matter could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court, but at this point that's doubtful.

In any event, score a big one for the victims. Glory be.

UPDATE, 8/27, 2:45 p.m.: The full text of the Spokane decision is available here.

Comments (3)

I wonder if the bankruptcy will be dismissed. If you count all the real estate, the archbishop may well not be "insolvent," which as I dimly recall was a prerequisite for bankruptcy protection.

Is there a provision in bankruptcy law to reverse a bankruptcy filing in cases where it seems clearly a means to avoid paying a judgment? (a la the prohibition against transfer of real property in anticipation of a lawsuit)


It ain't just Catholics; it's everywhere.

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