The Diocese of Norwich has agreed to set aside $29 million in a trust fund to be used for compensation for people who have claimed sexual abuse at the hands of Church employees — money that will come from a combination of sources that include contributions from individual parishes and the sale of St. Bernard School in Montville and Xavier High School in Middletown.
The trust fund is the result of ongoing mediation since September 2022 involving the Diocese, parishes, the Diocese’s insurer and representation for the survivors of sexual abuse.
The Diocese originally filed for bankruptcy in June 2021 after receiving 60 claims of sexual abuse alleged to have occurred at the former boys residential school Mount Saint John in Deep River. Before the school closed in 2013, it took in children referred to the school from the Department of Children and Families and the juvenile justice system.
In 2018, twenty-four men who were former students at the school filed a lawsuit against the dioceses alleging that they were sexually assaulted between 1986 and 1996, when they were between 11 and 15 years old.
In 2019, the diocese paid $7.7 million to settle nine abuse claims.
According to a press release dated Wednesday, the diocese has received 142 claims of sexual abuse since filing for bankruptcy. An independent claims provider and the trustee for the Trust will be responsible for determining how much survivors will receive in compensation and whether their claims are eligible.
In November, the 51 parishes within the diocese joined the bankruptcy settlement as a way of shielding themselves from liability from any future lawsuits brought directly against the parish. As part of the agreement, each parish will have to pay a sum of money as part of the settlement.
According to the plan, the parishes will be expected to contribute a total of $2.5 million to the trust fund, in addition to the proceeds from the sale of the St. Mary’s School property in Jewett City.
Funds for the Trust will also come from the sale of properties that are currently the St. Bernard School in Montville and Xavier High School in Middletown, according to the plan. The Day reported that St. Bernard School is hoping to lease the land and continue operating as a school.
Fr. Ted Tumicki, pastor of St. Mary Our Lady of the Rosary in Jewett City, who was one of the pastors who helped organize the parishes’ participation in the settlement, said it wasn’t yet clear how much each parish will have to pay, but he said it would be different for different parishes. He said that certain parishes that already owed debts to the Diocese might be asked to pay more.
Tumicki also pointed out that the plan has not yet been finalized, and could still change. The diocese will be asking the survivors and creditors to vote on the plan.
In a statement, the Diocese said that their highest priority was “the protection and spiritual welfare of our young.”
“The Diocese of Norwich continues our longstanding commitment to the support and healing of victim-survivors of abuse and reaffirms our commitment to protect our children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm,” the statement read.