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Cardinal Timothy Dolan gives deposition in Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy

Feb. 20, 2013

By Annysa Johnson and Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

Feb. 20, 2013

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, former archbishop of Milwaukee, was deposed Wednesday about clergy sex abuse in the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese's bankruptcy case, church officials and lawyers said.

The deposition, taken in New York and first reported by The New York Times, comes as Dolan prepares to leave next week for the Vatican, where a conclave of cardinals is to choose a pope to replace Pope Benedict XVI. The pope announced last week that he was stepping down, the first sitting pope to do so in more than 600 years.

Dolan, the most influential Catholic bishop in the United States, has been mentioned as a long shot to succeed Benedict, though many feel an American is unlikely to be picked.

Dolan headed the Milwaukee archdiocese from 2002 to 2009, before being named to the New York position. During his term here, archdiocesan officials sought to reach financial settlements with people who had been sexually abused by priests over the years, but those talks weren't successful. In January 2011, Dolan's Milwaukee successor, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, announced the archdiocese was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because the financial claims against it "exceed our means."

Details of the bankruptcy have been argued in the federal bankruptcy court of Judge Susan V. Kelley since then.

The Times reported that Dolan is one of two American cardinals to be deposed in sex-abuse related lawsuits this week - the other being former Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul, Minn.-based lawyer who represents many of the abuse victims in the bankruptcy case, took Dolan's deposition, the Times reported. The Catholic Archdiocese of New York confirmed that the cardinal gave a deposition.

Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, released this statement Wednesday:

"Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors during the time he was privileged to serve as Archbishop of Milwaukee.

"He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could, and he was looking forward to talking about the good work and progress that took place to ensure the protection of children and pastoral outreach to victims."

Anderson previously deposed retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Bishop Richard Sklba.

The Dolan deposition is related to two claims in the bankruptcy that are moving toward trial, according to Milwaukee archdiocese attorney Frank LoCoco. He said that attorneys for the victims had requested Dolan's deposition late last year, and neither the church nor Dolan objected.

LoCoco, who was at the deposition in New York, said Dolan was forthcoming about his handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis in Milwaukee.

"He couldn't be more clear that he was making sure they (the abusers) were not in ministry, and he was working to get them out of the church," LoCoco said.

Anderson's associate, Mike Finnegan, said he wouldn't comment on the content of the deposition, but he said all of the documents in the case should be released to the public.

Anderson and Finnegan have asked Kelley to release certain documents, including depositions. She's expected to take that up at a hearing April 4.

About Annysa Johnson

Annysa Johnson covers K-12 education in southeastern Wisconsin.

Bruce Vielmetti thumbnail
About Bruce Vielmetti

Bruce Vielmetti writes about legal affairs.

 
 
 
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