Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson defended his diocese’s decision to consider filing for bankruptcy in the Yuma Sun yesterday after begin accused of resorting to bankruptcy to avoid settling claims of sexual abuse.
The diocese is expected to appear before the court in three cases of sexual abuse in September.
Lynne Cadigan, an attorney representing an alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse, told the newspaper that the discussion about bankruptcy is a ploy by the diocese to taint the jury pool and persuade potential jurors that it is poor and can't afford to compensate victims.
But Bishop Kicanas rejects this argument. He told the Yuma Sun that filing for Chapter 11 is the best way for the diocese to respond to "those who have been hurt."
Last year, three Yuma families filed civil lawsuits against the Diocese of Tucson, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and a priest for the alleged sexual abuse.
The plaintiffs met with diocesan representatives May 17 in an attempt to reach a settlement, but the meeting was unsuccessful.
Bishop Kicanas said he was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting and that the demands of the plaintiffs remain beyond the means of the diocese.
There are 16 lawsuits against the Diocese of Tucson, alleging sexual abuse of minors by priests still pending.
Since the sexual abuse scandal was first reported, the diocese started a program for the protection of children. The diocese has background checks done on every staff member and provides training for staff to recognize abuse and report it.