From the Press Democrat in California:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa plans to file for bankruptcy protection in advance of the first clergy abuse trials resulting from a three-year period that gives adult survivors of child sexual abuse in California until Dec. 31 to file civil suits related to their experiences.

Critics immediately framed the move as an effort to prevent the disclosure of sensitive, embarrassing details about priest abuse and the measures they believe church officials took to hide misdeeds over decades.

They also chastised the diocese for choosing a route that would ensure there was no settlement money left for claimants who might yet be abused or who might legally file a lawsuit after the claim deadline established by the bankruptcy court.

“It’s all done, forever,” said Patrick Wall, a former Catholic priest and monk now working out of Orange County as an investigator and advocate for Jeff Anderson & Associates, a national legal firm specializing in child sex abuse cases, many of them involving clergy. “That’s why it is such a powerful technique.”

Filing for bankruptcy would freeze at least 130 new cases involving the Santa Rosa Diocese. Those cases have already been added to a consolidated case list administered through the Alameda County courthouse, which includes lawsuits from the rest of Northern California that have been filed since the three-year window opened at the beginning of 2020.

Attorneys say many more are yet to come before the “look-back” period closes on New Year’s Eve, preventing anyone 40 or older from filing a lawsuit based on abuse that occurred when they were children.

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