Friday, June 16, 2006
PARISHES CAN'T BE SOLD TO OBTAIN FUNDS TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS
SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal judge ruled Thursday that individual parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane are not owned by the bishop and thus cannot be sold by him to pay victims of clergy sex abuse.
The ruling by Judge Justin Quackenbush overturned a decision made in August by a bankruptcy judge who had ruled that the bishop held title to all parish assets.
Some 80 parishes had been at risk of losing churches, schools and other property to pay victims' claims. Thursday's ruling leaves victims with only the much smaller assets of the bishop to divide in any court settlement.
"It reduces the pot at this point," said Gayle Bush, an attorney representing victims. "The judge strongly encouraged the parties to settle their differences."