The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s bankruptcy process is underway, and a window is closing for survivors of priest sexual abuse to ask to be on a committee that will represent all survivors in negotiating a settlement with the church. A federal official is expected to select the committee members sometime early the week of Dec. 17.
There are about three dozen survivors who had ongoing lawsuits against the Archdiocese before it filed bankruptcy earlier this month. As part of the process, those three dozen survivors were told they could volunteer to be on the creditors' committee, the group that will hire an attorney at the Archdiocese’s expense and negotiate what kinds of compensation they want for all survivors.
However, there are likely other survivors out there who may want a say in those negotiations.
Ford Elsaesser, one of the attorneys representing the Archdiocese, says anyone with a claim of priest sexual abuse in the Archdiocese can try to get on the committee, regardless of whether they’ve hired an attorney or not. “A claimant does not have to be represented to participate in the bankruptcy," said Elsaessor, "including asking to be on the committee.”
Elsaesser says the U.S. trustee, the federal official who oversees the bankruptcy process, is expected to interview candidates and choose five to seven committee members in the next few days.
To contact the U.S. trustee about the creditors' committee, call Alice Nystel Page at 505-248-6550 or email Alice.N.Page@usdoj.gov
The next public proceeding in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy case is the creditors' meeting scheduled for Jan. 10, when the U.S. trustee and survivors will have the chance to put questions to Archbishop John Wester and other church officials.
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