Montana Diocese Filing For Bankruptcy To Settle Sexual Abuse Claims

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana Roman Catholic diocese will file for bankruptcy protection as part of a settlement with 72 people who filed sex abuse claims, church officials said Friday.

The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings said it expected to make the Chapter 11 reorganization filing later in the day and the diocese and its insurance carriers would contribute to a fund to compensate victims and set aside additional money for those who have not yet come forward.

The amount of the settlement was not released.

“On behalf of the entire Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, I express my profound sorrow and sincere apologies to anyone who was abused by a priest, a sister or a lay church worker,” Bishop Michael Warfel said in a statement. “No child should experience harm from anyone who serves the church.”

None of those who have been credibly accused are active in parish ministry and nearly all are deceased, Warfel said.

Two sexual abuse lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings — one in February 2012 and another the following June.

The Diocese of Helena, the only other diocese in the state, filed for bankruptcy in early 2014 to settle about 360 claims of abuse and sexual abuse by priests, nuns and lay workers who served in the diocese.

The settlement created a $21 million fund for victims named in the lawsuit and any others that might come forward.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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