Clergy sex abuse victims approve reorganization plan

Updated: 5:53 p.m. | Posted: 4:23 p.m.

Survivors of clergy sexual abuse have almost unanimously approved a bankruptcy reorganization plan for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The vote was 398 to 2. Now, there'll now be a court hearing Tuesday at which a federal judge will consider confirming the plan. Approval is expected.

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The plan provides $210 million for victims. But that is before legal fees for the church and victims' attorneys are deducted. Victims' attorneys typically get a third of such settlements.

"I look at the vote as a validation for those of us that have spoken out," said Bob Schwiderski, an abuse victim who filed a bankruptcy claim against the church. "It's not about money. It is about correcting society, where now people start to believe that it's not OK to rape children. To me that's number one above all things. It's what we as survivors have been saying, 'We got to change things.'"

The plan calls for the appointment of a person to review abuse victims' claims and assess how much compensation each survivor should get.

"This was an affirmation of the survivors' power in this process and their voice," said victims' attorney Mike Finnegan.

He said the vote will be a main factor in the judges' decision. Finnegan said he is not aware of any objections to the plan. Other groups of creditors unanimously approved the plan.

The Archdiocese said it is grateful for the overwhelming support abuse survivors showed for the plan.

"With this important step concluded, we look forward to the confirmation hearing for the Plan Tuesday morning .... before Judge Kressel in U.S. Bankruptcy Court," Thomas J. Abood, Chair of the Reorganization Task Force and Archdiocesan Finance Council, said in a statement.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2015, as it faced the prospect of lawsuits from hundreds of abuse victims.