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More than 500 abuse victims’ claims filed in Jesuits’ Oregon Province bankruptcy case

.- As the bankruptcy case of the Society of Jesus’ Oregon Province proceeds, more than 500 people have filed claims accusing Jesuits of the of sexual abuse in the northwest U.S.

Plaintiffs include Native Alaskan villagers abused as children and preparatory school students, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports.

The filing deadline of Nov. 30 was set by the federal judge overseeing the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Oregon Province, which includes Jesuits in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

The Oregon Province has already settled 200 additional sex abuse claims, including 110 Alaska Natives who received a $50 million settlement last year. About $45 million of that settlement was paid by insurers.

The Jesuits report they have spent about $25 million on settlements. Their bankruptcy documents claim $4.8 million in assets and liabilities of $61.8 million.

Many of the alleged victims still seeking settlements charge that the province has misstated its financial standing, contending the Jesuits control and own Gonzaga University, Gonzaga Preparatory School, Seattle University and other schools and properties.

Attorney James Stang, who is representing a committee of victims, has court approval to take limited depositions and to conduct some discovery of internal documents.

“The judge gave us a toe in the door,” he said, according to the Spokesman-Review. His team will try to develop a “viable theory” that Gonzaga and other properties are owned by the province.

The 7,200-student Gonzaga University was separately incorporated and registered 125 years ago. Mike Casey, Gonzaga’s corporation counsel, said the college will not volunteer money or other resources to settle the bankruptcy.

The Oregon Province is also in a dispute with insurers regarding the extent of its policies’ coverage. The province has hired James R. Murray, who is credited with securing $20 million from insurance companies to settle the bankruptcy of the Diocese of Spokane.


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April 23, 2014

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