A Catholic diocese based in the state of Delaware has filed for US bankruptcy protection on the eve of a civil trial involving high-profile sex abuse.
The move automatically delays the case, the seventh of its kind in the US since a scandal in Boston seven years ago.
The bishop of the diocese said the move offered the best chance for victims of sexual abuse to be treated fairly.
But an attorney for the victims said the action was a desperate attempt to hide the truth from the public.
The case, due to be heard on Monday, would have been the first to go to trial under a state law creating a two-year window allowing claims to be brought even if the statute of limitations had expired. </em>