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Abuse survivor calls Catholic Diocese plan to potentially file for bankruptcy a ‘slap in the face’

Diocese facing nearly 400 lawsuits from people sexually abused as children in church
Posted at 8:24 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 23:24:14-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A man who says he was groomed and later sexually abused by a priest in the 1970s says he’s outraged the Catholic Diocese of San Diego is considering filing for bankruptcy.

“I feel it’s like a slap in the face to me as a victim, it’s kind of without any warning,” said Anthony Dimaggio, 59.

Dimaggio, now a resident of Tulare, Calif., said he was sexually abused by a priest from 1975-1977 in Normal Heights and at a cabin, the church leader would take altar boys to.

The diocese is facing nearly 400 lawsuits from people alleging they were sexually abused as minors by priests and other clergies.

On Friday, it announced it was considering filing for bankruptcy as it prepares to deal with the estimated more than $550 million cost of the lawsuits.

The organization said filing for bankruptcy would allow diocese assets to be used equitably to compensate all victims of sexual abuse while continuing the ministries of the church.

Attorney Irwin Zalkin, who is representing 120 victims including Dimaggio, said filing for bankruptcy is a legal tactic to protect parish money.

“To try and make it, spin it as somehow in the best interest of survivors is nonsense,” he said.

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego previously filed for bankruptcy in 2007. That year, a federal judge forced the diocese to negotiate and the organization later settled with victims paying $198 million for 144 claims of abuse.

In 2019, California lifted the statute of limitations allowing victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits during a special three-year time window that closed on Dec 31. 2022.

Dimaggio was just 10 years old when he started to be abused. He said the priest who abused him was his coach and had become friends with his parents.

He said getting a settlement would be justice. “The abuse that you know I went through years ago, it’s still with me today.”

Bishop of San Diego Robert Cardinal McElroy called the sexual abuse of minors by priests “the greatest sin of our church in the last century” in a letter posted online.

“We must and will continue to protect minors with ever deeper vigor, provide healing resources to those who have been abused, and use our Diocesan assets to compensate those who were victimized.”