Judge approves $34M clergy abuse settlement with New Ulm diocese

New Ulm Bishop John LeVoir
Bishop John LeVoir of the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm holds a press conference at the diocese's pastoral center in New Ulm, Minn., on Tuesday, where he publicly apologized to survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Earlier in the day, a judge approved a $34 million bankruptcy settlement the diocese reached with survivors.
Hannah Yang | MPR News

The Diocese of New Ulm has reached a final settlement with sexual abuse survivors of $34 million.

A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved a settlement plan between the diocese, which serves west- and south-central Minnesota, and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The diocese also agreed to implement future child protection protocols.

About 93 sexual abuse claims were filed against the diocese under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The organization filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2017, becoming at the time the third in Minnesota to do so.

Three survivors spoke during the hearing Tuesday morning in the Brown County Courthouse, said Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing most of the cases.

“Each spoke powerfully in the courtroom today and touchingly from their heart. And, I might add, courageously,” Anderson said.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Bishop John LeVoir apologized to survivors, and said the diocese has already been changing its policies to prevent abuse within the church.

“We must never forget these sins of the past,” LeVoir said. “The Diocese of New Ulm and the Catholic Church must do everything possible to help protect the vulnerable so that this tragedy never happens again.”

LeVoir said the diocese is also enacting 17 new protocols to protect children, such continuing to provide training to church leaders, reporting abuse to law enforcement and enacting whistle-blower policies to protect reporters of abuse.

A trustee and third-party claims reviewer will determine the amount of compensation each survivor receives, and a neutral allocator will plan for distributing the settlement money in the coming months.

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