Friday, August 5, 2011

Religious order pays $24.8 million to settle Delaware priest abuse lawsuits

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Roman Catholic religious order agreed Thursday to pay $24.8 million to settle lawsuits filed by 39 survivors of priest sex abuse in Delaware.
As part of the settlement, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales also agreed for the first time to release the names of 12 of its members identified as child molesters and to disclose personnel files and records related to their placement, supervision and handling.

“I am sorry in the name of all Oblates for anything that an Oblate has done to violate a trust or to harm a person,” said the Rev. James Greenfield, head of the Oblates’ Wilmington-Philadelphia province. His members work in schools and other ministries from Massachusetts to Florida.
Greenfield said the settlement brings an end to litigation against the order and Salesianum School, a Catholic high school in Wilmington, Del., run by the Oblates, and clears the way for the order to try to rebuild trust with the victims.
“I’m going to commit myself to doing that,” Greenfield said.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a victims advocacy group, blasted the Oblates for trying to overturn the 2007 law.
“They’ll say pleasant platitudes in public now, but the truth is that they fought tooth and nail to prevent these victims from having any legal recourse and prevent these predators from being known to parishioners, parents and the public,” SNAP said in a statement.
The settlement was announced one week after a federal bankruptcy judge in Wilmington approved the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, which is based on a separate $77.4 million settlement with about 150 victims of priest sex abuse, including 37 of the 39 plaintiffs who also sued the Oblates.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 on the eve of a series of trials scheduled in lawsuits filed by alleged abuse victims. Under the terms of the diocese’s bankruptcy plan, about $23.6 million from the Oblate settlement will be transferred into the bankruptcy settlement trust for distribution among abuse victims.
Full article at Washington Post

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