Free tuition in Catholic schools and cemetery plots are among the compensation offered by the island’s Catholic church to victims of clergy sex abuse.
The church, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019 as it faced hundreds of abuse lawsuits seeking more than $1 billion in damages, submitted its updated bankruptcy plan on May 20. The plan provides more details on how the church intends to compensate victims.
The bankruptcy plan, which the church says will “bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” must be approved by a vote of the church’s creditors.
The church wants to divest dozens of properties, worth about $18.35 million, to a victims’ compensation trust, the bankruptcy plan says.
He also wants to separately sell his chancery office complex in Hagåtña and the church-owned FHP/TakeCare property in Tamuning. The church wants to use $500,000 from the sale of these properties to build replacement chancery offices at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica. The balance of the money from the sale would be used to pay other claims against the church, the plan says.
The church will also deposit $6.6 million in cash to the trust and $18 million from insurer AIG, which has reached an agreement with the church, the plan says.
The church also wants to provide 150 vouchers to cover tuition fees in Catholic schools on the island for up to 13 years of study. Three scholarship vouchers would be issued annually to five elementary schools in the Archdiocese and two annually to Our Lady of Guam Academy and Father Dueñas Memorial School.
The scholarship vouchers, which must be used within nine years, are intended for family members of abuse seekers, the plan says.
The church also plans to donate 50 cemetery plots to the trust at Pigo Catholic Cemetery, valued at approximately $332,500.
More than 275 people have sued the Archdiocese of Agana, alleging sexual abuse by priests and others associated with the church, after a 2016 Guam law lifted the statute of limitations on related civil cases to child abuse.
“Over the past few decades, numerous church clergy have violated the sacred trust placed in them by children and their families and the church by committing acts of sexual abuse,” the bankruptcy papers say.
“This has been left unanswered for decades. While the church failed to respond to the abuse, survivors of clergy sex abuse were ignored, called liars, shamed and felt abandoned by their church. This conduct goes against the teaching and traditions of the Church. The Archbishop has publicly apologized to survivors of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese for the role the church has played in the decades of suffering endured by survivors.
A law firm — Kramer Law LLC — will review survivors’ claims and determine how much they will be paid by the trust, based on assessment factors, the bankruptcy plan says.
The law firm will examine the nature and circumstances of the abuse, as well as the impact of the abuse on the mental health, physical health, spiritual well-being and interpersonal relationships of survivors, among other issues, indicates the map.
In order to receive compensation, survivors must waive all claims against the church.
“Between the various forms of plan funding, the tort plaintiffs are expected to receive the total sum between $37,019,033 and $107,000,000,” the church said in court documents.