Claimants continue to come forward

Fort Mills Times, South Carolina/January 08, 2009

Fairbanks, Alaska - Since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, the number of people alleging sexual abuse by the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese priests and church workers has more than doubled.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy last March. Since then, another 152 people have come forward and filed allegations with the court. That brings the latest tally to 292 people claiming they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy from the 1950s to 1980s, officials said.

The court imposed a Dec. 2 deadline to file further abuse claims.

Ronnie Rosenberg, the diocese's legal coordinator, said the diocese is still working on liquidating assets, selling things and getting appraisals to meet Chapter 11 requirements.

"These are complex cases with a lot of people trying to garner assets and figure out a plan," Rosenberg said.

"We're trying to figure out how this can happen so the diocese can continue to operate and the plaintiffs can get compensated. It's in everyone's interest to have that happen," he said.

Previous to filing for reorganization, the Fairbanks diocese had settled with 23 victims.

Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa said calls are still coming in. And he said new offenders are listed among the more recent claims of sexual abuse.

Roosa, law firm partner Chris Cooke and California attorney John Manley represent approximately 80 percent of the people who have come forward alleging sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over the 30-year period.

Roosa said the Fairbanks diocese is now legally protected from further claims, but victims can still levy legal claims against the Society of Jesus which provides priests for the northern Alaska mission diocese.

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