The Diocese of Stockton announced today that they are going to seek bankruptcy protection in federal court on Wednesday. They had announced their “intentions” to file last year.
The first goal of the filing, according to Bishop Stephen Blaire in the Lodi News is to “provid[e] a process to compensate victims of sexual abuse, particularly those who had not appeared in court.”
Which begs the argument: How many millions did Blaire spend in his court battle against Travis Trotter? Trotter, a retired Air Force Major and commercial airline pilot, came forward to accuse Fr. Michael Kelly of sexual abuse. Instead of seeking “a process to compensate” Trotter, or trying to help him, or taking Michael Kelly out of ministry, Bishop Stephen Blaire spent millions of dollars in a five-year legal war with Trotter. The result? A jury said that Kelly more than likely did it. Kelly fled to Ireland. Not so good for Blaire.
Blaire didn’t even have the decency to put Kelly on leave during the time period up to and during the trial. It’s one thing to support an accused priest, it’s another to flagrantly insult sex abuse victims and parishioners by allowing a credibly accused cleric to continue to work as a priest.
Stockton is also facing the problem of Oliver O’Grady, the serial predator whose victims are continuing to come forward. Blaire could have done a lot of things for these victims—encouraged them to come forward, worked with civil attorneys to get them counseling, or *GASP* been open and transparent with information. But no, he decided to spend his time and efforts supporting Michael Kelly. The victims? He simply didn’t care about them. Until he lost.
Blaire had plenty of money to fight victims … until he lost. Now that he says he broke, he suddenly is becoming very generous.
So, like Gallup, another diocese in the midst of the bankruptcy two-step, Stockton is seeking protection from the bankruptcy courts. Unfortunately for Catholics and victims of abuse, they went morally bankrupt decades ago.