Months after the Diocese of Gallup announced intentions to seek bankruptcy protection, Gallup Bishop James Wall FINALLY filed a declaration with the federal bankruptcy court to officially begin the process.
Why the delay? Why were James Wall and church officials stalling? Perhaps it was this astonishing revelation:
Bishop Wall says in his declaration that there are 105 victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Gallup. According to the Gallup Independent, those survivors are alive.
When you compare the number of victims in Gallup with other dioceses, the shocking nature of the numbers is clear:
According to Catholic-Hierarchy.org, in 2006 (the last year that numbers were available), there were 60,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Gallup. The total population was 470,000.
Now, let’s compare:
In 2003, California opened a one-year civil window for victims of child sexual abuse. During that year, 97 victims came forward in the Diocese of Orange. At the time, there were 1,280,159 Catholics in Orange. The total population was slightly over 3 million.
That same year a little farther south, 150 victims came forward and filed child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuits against the Diocese of San Diego. That year, there were approximately 919,000 Catholics in that diocese. Total population was 3.1 million.
Gallup’s victim tally rivals dioceses ten times its size in Catholic residents.
According to the Gallup Independent, 13 victims have outstanding sex abuse lawsuits. Where are the rest of these victims? Who are the perpetrators?
This is only the beginning. As Gallup diocese officials and victims groups reach out to find survivors before the court-determined bar date, this number could grow exponentially. When the Archdiocese of Milwaukee declared bankruptcy in 2011, 24 victims were in talks with the Archdiocese and there were 16 pending child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuits. By the time the bar date had closed, more than 500 victims had come forward.
I fear that we are going to see the ugly underbelly of child sex abuse and cover-up in Gallup over the next few months.