Clergy Abuse Cases Heads to Court

Clergy Abuse Cases Heads to Court

This week, an Oregon judge gave 130 clergy sexual abuse cases permission to proceed to trial.  This approval comes two years after the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland filed for bankruptcy after a $135 million lawsuit filed by an alleged survivor of clergy sex abuse, who claims he was molested by a reverend in the early 1980s.  He is one of many survivors who claim to have been abused by this church official.  

Attorneys in this sexual abuse case argue that church officials knew Rev. Maurice Grammond was abusing children for over 20 years, but did nothing to stop him.  They simply moved him from parish to parish as a solution to his unacceptable and horrendous acts against innocent children.  As expected, members of the archdiocese deny these accusations.  

Recently, the archdiocese and alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse were unable to reach a settlement.  Thus, these cases move to trial.  Almost 40 of these sexual abuse cases will be heard in state court, while the other 88 will be heard before a federal judge.   Many of these cases involve sexual abuse by prison chaplains, which allegedly occurred at the MacLaren School for boys, Oregon’s facility for juvenile offenders.  

Last year, the church stated their hope to settle all claims for $42 million.  The archdiocese re-organization plan, which must include an estimate for resolving these sexual abuse cases, is subject to approval by the court, creditors, and the alleged victims of abuse.  

Doing so in July 2004, the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland was the nation’s first diocese to file for bankruptcy.  

Federal Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Harris hopes the trials will help speed a settlement in these numerous cases of clergy sexual abuse.   

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