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Archdiocese offers abuse victims $4 million

MILWAUKEE — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said Wednesday that it would set aside $4 million for clergy sexual abuse victims in its bankruptcy reorganization plan, and that half the money would be borrowed from a controversial cemetery trust fund.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, saying pending sexual abuse lawsuits could leave it with debts it could not pay. Its creditors include hundreds of people who have filed sexual abuse claims, a fraction of which would be eligible for payments under the reorganization plan.

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The Milwaukee archdiocese agreed in 2006 to a nearly $16.7 million settlement for 10 victims in California who were abused by two of its priests while they were working there.

Peter Isely, a spokesman for clergy sexual abuse victims, called the offer of $4 million ‘‘obscene,’’ noting the archdiocese spent much more on legal fees and paid considerable sums to pedophile priests it was removing from ministry.

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki said Wednesday morning that lawyers would file the bankruptcy reorganization plan later in the day.

Under the plan, the archdiocese would cover victims’ therapy for the rest of their lives and provide $4 million to compensate victims and seek additional compensation from insurance companies.

Listecki acknowledged that some might be dismayed by the $4 million offer.

‘‘No amount of money basically is enough to compensate for the loss,’’ he said.

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