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Wis. archdiocese sets aside less than $4 million for abuse victims

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Milwaukee diocese bankruptcyThe Archdiocese of Milwaukee would set aside $4 million to compensate about 125 victims of childhood sexual abuse — less than a quarter of all claims — and to sue its insurance companies in hopes of securing additional funds under a reorganization plan filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

As part of the plan, the archdiocese said it would also borrow $2 million from a $57 million trust set aside for the operation of its cemeteries — money it argued it could not use for sex abuse claims — to pay a portion of its bankruptcy legal fees.

If approved by the court, and if no additional money comes in, the $4 million would be the smallest settlement paid to abuse survivors in any of the dozen or so Catholic Church bankruptcies filed since 2004.

The plan is likely to face opposition by attorneys for victims and the creditors committee — which, while it represents all creditors in the bankruptcy, is composed of only abuse survivors.

The archdiocese attributed the low figure in part to costly legal fees caused by the victims' aggressive pursuit of church assets that could fund a settlement. The inability to draw on its insurance coverage also is a major factor.

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