April 12, 2005

Lawyer for victims of abuse seeks to include parish property

Seattle Post-Intelligencer


SPOKANE, Wash. -- Many of the parish churches under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane should be included as assets available to pay alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests, attorneys for victims contend.

Attorneys for 58 alleged victims of abuse last week asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams to rule that Bishop William Skylstad effectively controls the parishes in his diocese, and that some of those churches should be available to settle cases.

Skylstad and his attorneys have argued that the bishop's office only owns a handful of assets, including the diocese headquarters and the bishop's house.

"Since this bankruptcy began, the bishop has been playing a shell game with the bulk of the real property in the diocese," attorney James Stang of Los Angeles wrote in the motion for summary judgment. He represents the 58 people who filed sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese.

"Seemingly, any ownership would be better than using the properties to pay the victims of the sexual abuse perpetrated by his priests, employees and others in his diocese," Stang wrote.

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2005 08:38 AM