HOW MANY PRIESTS WERE INVOLVED?
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has verified claims of sexual abuse by 45 priests, including 23 who are still alive. None is allowed to work as a priest, and 15 have been officially defrocked. Most of them are accused of abuse that took place before 1990.
HOW MANY VICTIMS ARE THERE?
It's hard to say because some victims may not have come forward. But one former priest, Lawrence Murphy, has been accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at a school for the deaf from 1950 to 1974. Other priests have been accused by only one person thus far. There are more than 570 sexual abuse claims pending in bankruptcy court, but some of those involve lay people or priests assigned to religious orders, not the archdiocese. Attorneys have not said specifically how many of the 570 claims relate to the 45 priests on the archdiocese's restricted list.
HOW DID CLERGY ABUSE CASES END UP IN BANKRUPTCY COURT?
Abuse victims had long sought to hold the archdiocese accountable, but most didn't come forward until well into adulthood, when it was too late under Wisconsin law to sue the church for negligence in supervising its priests. A 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision gave them a window, saying the six-year limit in fraud cases didn't start until the deception was uncovered. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, once it became clear that it could face a slew of lawsuits. It said it wouldn't have the money to pay if those cases went against it.
WHAT'S IN THE DOCUMENTS THE ARCHDIOCESE IS RELEASING BY JULY 1?
It's hard to say for certain because no one has seen the collection yet except attorneys and certain church leaders. Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, has said it will include the personnel files of 42 priests, depositions of church leaders including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese, and records from the files of bishops and other key figures.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The release of the documents has been important to sexual abuse victims, but it does not affect resolution of the bankruptcy case. Topczewski says the next step in that will be for the archdiocese to come up with a reorganization plan detailing how it will provide for victims and pay its expenses in the future. Mike Finnegan, an attorney representing many victims, says one focus for his legal team will be trying to get the archdiocese's former insurers to cover abuse claims.