Victims Express Frustration With Archdiocese Bankruptcy Case

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It’s been nearly three years since the Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for bankruptcy, and letters sent to a federal judge reflect impatience with the pace of the proceedings.

At least 16 letters have gone to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma since the case began, with most being sent by the same few people. Still, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the letters appear to give a voice to victims or the relatives of victims as the case drags on.

One letter sent three months ago reads: “Nothing is happening! Victims are frustrated with the case at a standstill. Please help!!!!”

About 385 victims, most of whom suffered child sexual abuse by priests and other clergy members, are represented by numerous attorneys. Nine of the claimants make up a committee that also speaks for the victims.

The Rev. Glennon Jones, the archdiocese’s vicar general, wrote on the institution’s website at the end of September that the archdiocese is collecting money to pay the victims. The archdiocese also is negotiating with insurance companies, but Jones acknowledged that it “may take a while.”

Ford Elsaesser, an Idaho-based bankruptcy attorney representing the archdiocese, said Thursday that the frustration of the survivors is understandable. While the ongoing work with the insurance companies is confidential, he said it's critical to the case.

Nationwide, numerous dioceses and Catholic orders have filed for bankruptcy in the sex abuse scandal.

In New Mexico, victims’ attorneys accused the archdiocese of shifting assets to parishes and trust funds ahead of the bankruptcy filing to make them inaccessible to victims. That complaint is on hold.

It’s not clear how much money and insurance the archdiocese is trying to collect. Participants in the case have declined to disclose that. Thuma wrote in February that more than $150 million could be involved, and that was only for a portion of the assets victims potentially could receive.