'Dan Rather Reports' Exposes Coordinated Effort by the Catholic Church to Protect Assets From Abuse Victims

Are local dioceses declaring bankruptcy in order to avoid paying settlements to victims of priest sexual abuse? Tuesday, June 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET

Jun 24, 2010, 12:00 ET from HDNet

DALLAS, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Next week, "Dan Rather Reports" investigates how the Roman Catholic Church has been hiding and shielding assets from victims of priest abuse.  Some say the Church is behaving more like a big corporation than a sacred institution.

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From the Vatican on down, the church has vowed to make peace with hundreds of victims of a decades-long epidemic of sex abuse by its priests. But "Dan Rather Reports" found evidence that the church has done just the opposite: Wealthy U.S. Dioceses from California to Delaware have claimed to be broke and have filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying damages; Bishops have exploited arcane corporate laws to shield church assets from liability; and, in San Diego, parish priests have been caught literally hiding money in safes, according to court records.

"If you or I did what the Diocese of San Diego did in that bankruptcy, we'd be charged with bankruptcy fraud, and we'd probably be in prison," said attorney John Manly, who has represented dozens of priest abuse victims in lawsuits across the country.

"Dan Rather Reports" found evidence that some high in the church hierarchy have provided guidance.

"One of the comments that came from one of the bankruptcy attorneys is that, 'These guys make Enron look like altar boys.'  Pardon the pun," said Don McLean, who was abused as a 10-year-old altar boy, and sought damages from the San Diego diocese.

"Dan Rather Reports:  Spiritually Bankrupt" premieres on HDNet, Tuesday, June 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.

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