More than 700 claims were filed in the Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy case ahead of a key deadline in the legal process.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse had until last Friday to submit a proof of claim in the case. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michelle M. Harner set the deadline, which came 245 days after the Archdiocese of Baltimore filed a petition for Chapter 11 reorganization.

The figure is not a final number, said Paul Jan Zdunek, chair of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which represents survivors. He said a lot of claims were filed right before the deadline.

Though he did not have an exact number, Zdunek said most relate to sexual abuse.

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The Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for bankruptcy before a new state law, the Child Victims Act of 2023, was set to take effect on Oct. 1, 2023. The measure abolished the statute of limitations for survivors to file lawsuits and enabled more of them to sue institutions that enabled their victimization.

The Maryland Supreme Court has agreed to take up the constitutionality of the law. The justices are scheduled to hear oral argument on Sept. 10.

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a more than 450-page report that detailed decades of allegations of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the first Catholic diocese in the United States.

Archbishop William Lori released a video message before the deadline and stated that he continues to offer his heartfelt apology for the trauma that survivors have endured.

Lori said the total number of claims will include those from businesses and others that are not related to sexual abuse. But he described the moment as a “stark reminder that behind each abuse claim lies a personal and a painful story.”

The deadline, he said, “does not end the moral obligation of the archdiocese to respond compassionately to those who were harmed.”

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