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Minnesota diocese files for bankruptcy after sex abuse award

DULUTH, Minn. -- A Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Minnesota has filed for bankruptcy protection after a jury found it partially responsible in a clergy sex abuse case.

The Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 reorganization Monday.

The diocese says the move was necessary after efforts to reach a resolution with all abuse victims were unsuccessful.

In November, a Ramsey County jury awarded $8.1 million to a man who says he was molested by a priest in northern Minnesota in 1978 when he was a boy. The diocese was held responsible for $4.8 million.

CBS affiliate KDLH reports that the Diocese will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process.

The Diocese shared this statement by Rev. James Bissonette, the vicar general of the Diocese, on behalf of the Organization:

"There is sadness in having to proceed in this fashion. After the recent trial, the Diocese again attempted to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution. Up to this point, the Diocese has not been able to reach such a settlement, and given the magnitude of the verdict, the Diocese was left with no choice but to file for reorganization. The decision to file today safeguards the limited assets of the Diocese and will ensure that the resources of the Diocese can be shared justly with all victims, while allowing the day-to-day operation of the work of the Church to continue. This decision is in keeping with our approach since the enactment of the Child Victims Act, which has been to put abuse victims first, to pursue the truth with transparency and to do the right thing in the right way."

The diocese has more than 56,000 Catholics in 10 counties of northeastern Minnesota.

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