A sex abuse case against Delaware's Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and a former priest will be delayed after the diocese filed for federal bankruptcy protection on the eve of trial.
The bankruptcy filing late Sunday delays a lawsuit that had been set to start Monday in Kent County Superior Court, the first of eight consecutive abuse trials scheduled in Delaware.
"This is a painful decision, one that I had hoped and prayed I would never have to make," the Rev. W. Francis Malooly, the bishop of the diocese, said in a statement on the diocese's Web site.
Wilmington is the seventh U.S. Catholic diocese to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since the church abuse scandal erupted seven years ago in the Archdiocese of Boston.
The Wilmington diocese covers Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and serves about 230,000 Catholics.
Thomas Neuberger, an attorney representing 88 alleged victims, described the bankruptcy filing as a "desperate effort to hide the truth from the public and conceal the thousands of pages of scandalous documents" from being made public in court.