Insurers contribute to $21.5 million Minnesota abuse settlement

The Roman Catholic diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota has reached a $21.5 million settlement with 145 individuals who alleged that they were sexually abused by its clergy.

The diocese encompasses Minnesota’s 20 southernmost counties and has more than 100 parishes, according to its website.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented many of the survivors, said the settlement will include an additional $6.5 million from the diocese’s insurers.

Winona-Rochester is the last Catholic diocese in the state to settle its abuse claims, filed in response to a 2013 law that temporarily extended the statute of limitations on abuse cases.

The diocese is one of five in Minnesota that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to abuse claims against its priests.

The settlement allows the diocese to submit a financial reorganisation plan to the US Bankruptcy Court for final approval.

“We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority,” said Bishop John Quinn of Winona-Rochester.

“We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.”

The dioceses of St Cloud, New Ulm and Duluth and the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis have subsequently emerged from their respective bankruptcies.

In December 2020 a bankruptcy court approved a reorganisation plan for the Catholic Diocese of St Cloud to settle legal claims of clergy abuse survivors. In 2018, the St. Cloud diocese had announced that it planned to file for bankruptcy after receiving 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors.

In 2019 the diocese of New Ulm in Minnesota reached a $34 million settlement in its bankruptcy case with 93 people who say they were sexually abused by priests and others.

The latest Winona-Rochester settlement absolves claims against schools, churches and other Catholic institutions in the diocese, according to a report in local paper Star Tribune.