ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for filing a claim against the Twin Cities Archdiocese.
As of Monday evening, the Archdiocese is facing $25.6 million in claims, but that figure will jump dramatically. Of the 655 claims against the Archdiocese, more than 400 are from victims of clergy abuse.
A bankruptcy court will decide at a later date how much those claims are worth, and there was a last minute rush Monday to beat the deadline.
At the offices of attorney Jeff Anderson the phone has not stopped ringing. Office coordinator Michelle Stoltz answered the phone all day.
“It’s been frantic, nonstop,” Stoltz said.
Stoltz said some victims waited until Monday to come forward and file a claim.
“I had a man tell me he was very nervous to call in,” Stoltz said. “He felt that God was going to strike him dead.”
Not all of the claims are for abuse — the IRS has a $115,000 claim. There’s also a nearly $14 million claim on behalf of a trust that provides health insurance to 3,500 Archdiocese employees.
Not all of the claims carry such large numbers — a $99 claim by Thomas Liquor Store in St. Paul says a check from the Archdiocese account bounced in January.
Charles Reid, a Law Professor at the University of St. Thomas, speculated as to such a small check could’ve caused problems.
“The assets may have been frozen,” Reid said. “That would be a good guess.”
It’s not clear if the bankruptcy will be more like the Archdiocese of Helena Montana, which was concluded in a matter of months, or if it will be more like Milwaukee, which has dragged on for four and a half years.
“It’s a very nasty fight, and that is something we have to avoid here,” Reid said.
Professor Reid says Milwaukee’s bankruptcy has been mired in accusations of hidden assets. Mike Finnegan, an attorney for the abuse victims, says they hope the case moves quickly.
“We are going to do everything we can to move it along,” Finnegan said.
Hundreds of Minnesota parishes and schools have also filed claims in an attempt to protect themselves in the bankruptcy process. An attorney for the Archdiocese says they could not comment on any particular claim at this time.