OND Staff Report
The Diocese of Crookston has reached a $5 million settlement with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, announced in a statement July 17. The settlement resolves 15 lawsuits for sexual abuse claims filed between April 2016 and May 2017 because of the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The legislation lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, opening a three-year window that allowed victims an opportunity to file civil claims.
“To all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, as the Bishop of Crookston I apologize for the harm done to you by those entrusted with your spiritual care. Although you can never be fully compensated for your suffering, we are thankful this litigation has now come to a good end and are hopeful this settlement offers you justice and will be helpful for healing,” Bishop Hoeppner said in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.
“To you, the faithful of this local Church, I say thank you for your continued prayer: for victims of sexual abuse; for a fair resolve to these cases,” he wrote. “Let us all now, humbly, offer prayers of thanksgiving.”
According to the diocese, most of the costs associated with the settlement came through insurance proceeds. $1.55 million came from the property sales of Camp Corbett (Big Elbow Lake, Becker County, MN) in 2018 and Holy Spirit Newman Center (Bemidji, MN) in 2016, as well as two non-restricted estate gifts in 2017.
Also, in preparation for settlement, the diocese says two open staff positions were left unfilled. The diocese did not have to finance any portion of the settlement through loans. According to Bishop Hoeppner, no Diocesan Annual Appeal funds were used for the settlement.
Because of the settlement, the Diocese of Crookston says it has been able to avoid bankruptcy protection. All other dioceses in Minnesota have filed or announced their intent to file for financial reorganization in recent years. The statement says the diocese will not experience lay-offs and can steadfastly continue its mission of serving God’s people in the 14 Northwest counties of Minnesota.