A new mediator began work this week to find a solution to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s bankruptcy case filed three years ago to compensate victims of clergy sex abuse.
US Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma has approved the hiring of Paul J. Van Osselaer, a Texas mediator who will be paid $700 an hour. He is the third to assume the role in the case. The judge’s order said Van Osselaer would be paid by the archdiocese and its insurers.
Thuma filed an order this week saying the mediator would meet with six insurance companies Tuesday through Thursday.
More than 400 victims of clergy sex abuse are awaiting a settlement in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case that was filed in December 2018. The archdiocese raised funds for a potential settlement through property sales, d ‘an auction of properties and donations, but payments from insurance companies are expected. be vital.
The Reverend Glennon Jones, vicar general of the archdiocese, said in the fall that his institution was negotiating with insurers, “but there is no way to speed things up.” No target amount was disclosed for a possible settlement.
Thuma said a second mediator, Alan Malott, was not released from duty but did not have to attend meetings this week. Malott replaced the first mediator, Leo S. Papas, in April 2020.
Van Osselaer was among the mediators involved in the USA Gymnastics bankruptcy case in which a doctor, Larry Nassar, was accused of sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts. That case was settled last month for $380 million.
The order states that participants in mediation meetings must file confidential statements which may include assertions of facts, issues, positions on the issue, copies of documents, an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the negotiation and suggestions. on how to settle the case.
Aaron Boland, a Santa Fe attorney representing a victim, said Thursday he was not at the meetings but assumed they were negotiating “a number and a process” to end it.
Boland said mediation hasn’t done the job before in this case. “You also want to be positive, and maybe that’s the one,” he said of Van Osselaer. “I think the judge wants them to get on it.”