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Claims against Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis pour in

ST. PAUL -- A closer look at claims filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as part of its bankruptcy proceedings shows requests from former employees, outcast priests, business associates and the whistleblower whose disclosures...

ST. PAUL - A closer look at claims filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as part of its bankruptcy proceedings shows requests from former employees, outcast priests, business associates and the whistleblower whose disclosures sped the church’s unraveling.

Monday marked the last day to file claims against the archdiocese, including clergy sex abuse claims, and they flooded in as the day came to a close.
Among the claims filed:
-- The IRS filed a claim for $115,024 for taxes going back to 2011.
-- Retired priest Stanley Kozlak wants to keep his $1,216 monthly pay, medical insurance and $1,550 in “subsistence pay” that was part of a 2002 payoff after he fathered a child.
-- The Rev. Mark Huberty, who was charged but acquitted of sexual misconduct for having an affair with a woman, is asking the archdiocese to cover $46,000 in legal fees for his criminal case. Criminal and civil cases have been filed since then against other priests and bishops, Huberty said in his claim affidavit, “and it is widely known that their legal expenses have been paid for by the archdiocese.”
-- The Rev. John Bussmann, who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving an adult woman and later convicted of theft, claims he’s owed more than $680,000 in back pay and material support for the more than 20 years he’s been unassigned. He said the archdiocese this year offered to pay him $10,000 to leave the priesthood, but he rejected it because he “considers his vocation a valid calling from Almighty God, [and] he cannot in conscience ‘sell’ his priesthood for any amount of money,” his claim said.
He did not specify who made the $10,000 offer. Former Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned in June. The Vatican named Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Newark, N.J., apostolic administrator for the St. Paul archdiocese - a caretaker role until Pope Francis names a new archbishop.
-- The Cathedral of St. Paul filed a claim in an effort to protect an estate left to the church in 1929 by William C. Riley. The archdiocese apparently listed the $2.5 million fund as one of its assets in its bankruptcy financial disclosures and has stopped making monthly payments to the cathedral, despite Riley’s bequest.
-- Jennifer Haselberger, the Twin Cities archdiocese’s former chancellor for canonical affairs who became the primary whistleblower of its alleged misconduct, filed a claim seeking at least $50,000. The basis for her claim is listed as “common law tort claim for defamation occuring (sic) after 6/6/14,” with no further explanation. Haselberger worked as chancellor from 2008 until April 2013, when she resigned in protest.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Haselberger declined to discuss details, but referred to her blog, canonicalconsultation.com , for explanation. On her blog, she wrote that she has not commenced a lawsuit, but that she had notified the archdiocese “that I had a claim for which I may seek legal remedy.” Her defamation of character claim, she wrote, “is based not on a single incident but multiple incidences that have occurred over the past year.”
She wrote that she does not seek personal enrichment, but that will “use any award in furtherance of the goal of ensuring that the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis becomes a safe and welcoming place for all individuals. ... my intention is to use any award as seed money for that project.”
-- A former University of St. Thomas employee, Julia Risser, claims $55,000 stemming from “financial harm and emotional stress” due to a work environment that marginalized women and resulted in her termination, she said in a letter to the court.
-- Annette Ashton, a former administrator at Faithful Shepherd School in Eagan, is asking for $340,000 in lost wages, plus an unspecified amount of pension benefits, because she was “terminated for insubordination without grounds or justification,” according to her claim form.
Ashton said she was fired following an unexplained “assessment” at the school involving an unnamed attorney and Canonical Administrator the Rev. Charles Lachowitzer. “In March of 2003, I was unexpectedly removed from the building by the attorney. There was a police car outside the building as I was publicly escorted out during school hours and told I was not allowed back on the premises,” Ashton wrote in a letter accompanying her claim form. “This happened on a day when I was the only administrator in the building due to weather. It was my responsibility to supervise all children who had arrived until their teachers arrived. The principal, my immediate supervisor, was not in the building and was not aware that I was being removed. She also was not advised that I was being terminated.”
-- Former finance advisor Michael Schaefer is asking for at least $50,000 because he lost his contracts with a diocese in California after officials with the Twin Cities archdiocese told church officials there that he’d engaged in sexual misconduct, which he denies. He filed a lawsuit in April in Dakota County District Court, which outlines the basis for his claim in the bankruptcy case.
Claims filed against the archdiocese will stand unless an objection is filed.
The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, citing an operating deficit and lawsuits for clergy sexual abuse.

By the numbers
Aug. 3: Last day to file claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in U.S. Bankruptcy Court
669: All claims filed and counted by end of day Tuesday
407: Sex abuse claims
128: Claims filed Monday
$25.8 million: Total amount claimed, including general unsecured claims

 

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