MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Monday, July 1st, thousands of pages of documents, detailing the role of the Milwaukee Archdiocese and its officials in sex abuse cases involving clergy, and actions of the Archdiocese as it relates to finances and the Archdiocese's bankruptcy proceedings were released. One group responding to the release is SNAP -- the Survivor's Network for Those Abused by Priests. SNAP is now calling out former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan for his role in the transferring of money from the Archdiocese to a trust.
SNAP says on June 4, 2007, then Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, now Cardinal of New York, sent a letter to the Vatican requesting permission to transfer nearly $57 million dollars from the assets of the archdiocese into a new “autonomous pious foundation” called a “Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust.”
SNAP says, while this was occurring, the Milwaukee Archdiocese was facing a growing number of potential claims for fraud in concealing and transferring known child sex offenders.
SNAP says the documents released on Monday show that Dolan had considered bankruptcy for the archdiocese as early as 2004.
A statement released by SNAP on Monday reads, in part: "According to the letter to Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the powerful Congregation of the Clergy in Rome, Dolan said he had already established the Trust on May 4, 2007, after “extensive study and consultation” and was seeking permission from the Vatican to make the transfer.
Dolan then clearly states his intent for creating the Trust: “By transferring these assets to the Trust, they will be protected by any legal claim and liability.”
According to SNAP, on July 1, 2007 the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled unanimously that civil cases for fraud against the Milwaukee Archdiocese could proceed. Two weeks later, on July 18, 2007 Dolan got his approval from Rome and the money, presumably, was then transferred.
SNAP says: "Two and half years later Dolan left for New York and the Archdiocese soon filed for Federal Bankruptcy Protection, the nearly 57 million dollars conveniently and fraudulently off the books and not among the archdiocese assets."
SNAP says: "For any CEO or Fiscal Director that transfers money out of a corporation, knowing they will likely file for bankruptcy protection, and then claims it cannot pay its debts—and let’s remember in this case, most of the “creditors” are child sex abuse victims—it is a crime called “Fraudulent Conveyance” punishable by fines, prison time or both."
SNAP says Dolan lied about the existence of the trust and that these Archdiocesan assets had been transferred.
Now, SNAP is calling for a federal investigation.
The Archdiocese has said in a news release: “Our goal in the publication of these documents is to try to bring this chapter of our history as a Church in southeastern Wisconsin to a close and to allow us to continue our work with abuse survivors, and to focus on education and prevention. Today, no organization in the world does more to combat sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church in the United States.”
SNAP released the following statement Monday evening:
"A letter that surfaced today in the Milwaukee Federal Bankruptcy Court proves that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York transferred millions of dollars into a bogus Trust to prevent assets of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from being accessed by survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
In a written response Dolan claims that he was forced to set up the Trust by Wisconsin state law. In a favorite word of Cardinal Dolan: “Malarkey”.
No such ridiculous requirement is found in Wisconsin law.
As today’s letter shows, the decision to establish the bogus trust was the decision of Cardinal Dolan. Under Federal Bankruptcy law it’s called “Fraudulent Conveyance” or “Transfer” and is illegal and punishable by fines, prison time, or both.
In fact, as the New York Times reported today, Dolan used his favorite word when first confronted with his fraud trust scheme in February of 2011. At the time he told the press that charges that he hid money was “terribly irresponsible, malarkey, and ridiculous and groundless gossip.”
This is virtually the same language that Dolan tried to use when he was caught in Milwaukee in 2007 paying off pedophile priests to quietly leave the priesthood so they could settle into new jobs in unsuspecting communities. He called such claims, “false, preposterous and unjust.” Bankruptcy documents now prove that was a lot of “malarkey” too. Dolan we now know secretly paid out at least nine priests.
In 2011, with the cemetery trust charge, Dolan “invited law enforcement to speak with him about his time in Milwaukee”
With today’s letter to the Vatican, that time has surely come."
CLICK HERE to read Dolan's letter.