Diocese settles sex abuse claims

This afternoon was so busy, I was letting the machine get the phone, and I missed a call from the Bishop giving me a heads-up on the following news, which I will now share with you:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston
announced Friday it will settle child sex abuse claims in South
Carolina, designating as much as $12 million for damages.

is my fervent hope that this settlement will allow us, as the Catholic
community of faith in South Carolina, to bring closure to an ugly
period in our history," Bishop Robert Baker said.

class-action settlement has been given initial approval by a state
judge, said Larry Richter, an attorney for four victims whose claims
were settled last summer.

Peter Shahid Jr., an attorney
representing the diocese, said the church knows of at least eight other
victims although others may come forward.

Under the settlement, abuse victims could get anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 while spouses and parents would receive $20,000.

1950, there have been 50 abuse claims involving 28 clergy or others
diocesan employees settled for almost $3 million, Shahid said. Those
claims were not apart of the new settlement.

Richter, himself a Roman Catholic, said it is unclear how many other victims may come forward.

you find in this area is people can’t just be molested and the next day
step up to the plate and say ‘I’m a victim,’" he said. "It’s often
after a very painful time in life."

Baker said in a letter
published in the diocesan newspaper on Friday that he deeply regrets
"the anguish of any individual who has suffered the scourge of
childhood abuse and I am firmly committed to a just resolution of any
instance in which a person who holds the responsibility of a protector
has become a predator."

The settlement allows compensation for sexual abuse victims born before August 30, 1980, and their spouses and parents.

attorneys said the 1980 date was negotiated generally to assure the
settlement would cover victims who otherwise could not sue because the
statute of limitations would have expired.

The agreement sets up an initial pool of $5 million. If $4 million of that is paid, a second pool of $7 million will be added.

said they arrived at the $12 million figure by reviewing settlements
throughout the country. An arbitrator will validate claims and
determine the amount of compensation, according to the statement.

The diocese said it was encouraging anyone who was a victim to contact Richter.

Barker, chief financial officer for the diocese, said the money would
come from insurance, interest on investments and, if needed, selling
church property.

"There have been dioceses that have declared
bankruptcy," Shahid said. "The faithful should understand … we have
capped our liability at $12 million. Those (other) dioceses were faced
with huge debts as a result of claims and were forced into bankruptcy."

officials in South Carolina have said the incidence of child abuse has
been lower here than the national average during the past half century.

released by the church three years ago show that between 1950 and 2002
about 4 percent of all American Catholic clerics were accused of abuse
compared with 2.7 percent of the clergy in South Carolina.

former South Carolina priest who pleaded guilty last year to assault
and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the sexual abuse of two
boys 30 years ago was the seventh former priest, coach or teacher in
the diocese to plead guilty to abuse charges.

There are about
158,000 Catholics in South Carolina, almost four percent of the state
population, according to the diocesan Web site.

A final hearing on the settlement will be held in early March.

10 thoughts on “Diocese settles sex abuse claims

  1. Dave

    This looks like a reasonable settlement but for one thing. The guilty priests need to submit to “public caning” by any parishioners who want to swing the stick. The Baptist, Lutheran, Jewish, etc. ministers who have ruined young kid’s lives should suffer the same fate. For once and for all, can we put a stop to this pedophilia?

  2. Randy Ewart

    Dave, there’s been a new book written since the Old Testament. Give it a look. It’s called the New Testament. It’s the same book these parishioners have been reading.

  3. Doug

    The structure of the Catholic Church creates the environment where the opportunity for sexual misconduct is greater than in general society. The financial requirements of supporting the Catholic Church makes covering up misdeeds a necessity.
    Celibacy is not natural.

  4. Dave

    Randy, Catholic parishioners are more outraged by what pedophilia has done to their church than you can imagine. Now if it were Episcopalians, I could understand the acceptance you infer.

  5. bud

    Dave, if Catholic parishioners so outraged why don’t they leave the church? The parishioners are part of the problem by continuing to support the Catholic church with their money and attendance.

  6. Dave

    Bud, Catholics believe that Christ made Peter the first Pope and the church is actually the body of Christ. They also know that the clergy and hierarchy consists of humans, who sin and fail, as we all do. So, there is anger and disappointment in Catholic ranks, but if one abandons the body of Christ, what would they have left?

  7. bud

    So Dave you support a religion that tacitly supports pedophilia then turn around and condem other religions. How can I take anything you say seriously?

  8. bud

    Here’s a classic illustration of how logic breaks down completely when it comes to issues of religion. Dave defends the tenants of his religion but acknowledges disappointment in many of those who are high ranking members of that religion. It seems only logical to me that Dave should seek out a religious institution that both endorses Dave’s beliefs AND has a history of leadership that ranks high in ethical standards. If none exists then why not just abandon the existing organization and practice on your religious faith on your own? But to continue to attend services and provide financial support to an organization that has callously abused young boys seems unconsciounable to me.
    Let’s take religion out of this discussion for a moment. Let’s say I join an organization, say the ACLU, because I believe in the principals they stand for. The leadership of that organization finds out that large numbers of it’s mid-level managers are taking advantage of young boys while they are on duty performing functions for the ACLU. But the leadership at the top covers up these events and even has many of it’s guilty managers moved to other cities. And this happens over the course of 50 years. If I find out about this I would immediately turn in my ACLU card and demand justice, even though I believe in the stated principals of the ACLU. If another organzation is available to pursue the activities supported by ACLU I will join. If not, I will work on my own. But under no circumstances will I continue my association with a group that has acted so callously.
    But somehow members of the Catholich church simply will not take similar action. It just doesn’t make sense.

  9. Lee

    As a newspaper editor and a Catholic, why does Mr. Warthen avoid the whole story – that over 90% of the pedophile priests were homosexuals?
    I know that is not the way to keep your job in Big Media, but give it a try.

  10. john

    after all is said and done i will still wake up tommoro as a survivor! not as a victim anymore, as for the church? they don’t seem to care about me or my other brothers who suffered at thier hands!why don’t they call my family and ask if we are okay? and if they can do anything to help!!!we stand together (4) survivors..alone…


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