Judge shields Wis. archdiocese fund from creditors

Judge allows Milwaukee archdiocese to shield over $50M in cemetery funds from creditors
Judge shields Wis. archdiocese fund from creditors

A federal judge says money that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has placed in a cemetery trust can be shielded from creditors in sex-abuse settlements.

The ruling released Monday is a victory for the Archdiocese, which has more than $50 million in the cemetery fund. Sex-abuse victims have accused the archdiocese of transferring money into the fund to avoid paying it to them.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa ruled that the archdiocese had the right to set aside the money under the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion. The decision now sends the case back to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley.

The cemetery trust was formed in 2007 by then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011 to deal with hundreds of sex-abuse claims.