Tuesday, July 8, 2014

An Unsettling Settlement

As reported yesterday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (my emphasis in bold / my comments in italics) ... 
On a morning when a historic sexual abuse trial was supposed to begin, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced a settlement in a civil lawsuit against a defrocked priest.
The first trial involving the archdiocese since the sexual abuse crisis broke in 2002 was set to begin Monday morning.
[My Note: all the rest, 60 or more, have been settled out of court or dismissed].
The lawsuit involves a woman who claims she was abused by former priest Joseph D. Ross from 1997 to 2001 while attending St. Cronan Catholic Church. The woman, ... alleges the abuse began when she was 5 or 6 years old.
The archdiocese maintains that the allegations made in the lawsuit are false and denies Jane Doe was ever abused by Ross. 
... At the request of the plaintiff, details of the settlement will remain confidential, Pesha said. 
While the archdiocese denied Ross abused the plaintiff in this case, it acknowledged the priest had abused several other boys in the 1970s and ’80s.
[Including one in the confessional - after which the priest was returned to duty and allowed around children.  How do you allow a priest to function as a priest after he's desecrated a sacrament, much less the body of an innocent child?]
“To be clear, the archdiocese is not defending Ross. He is a known abuser, which is illegal, wrong and shameful,” the archdiocese said. Ross was removed from ministry in 2002.
“The archdiocese does, however, have an obligation to defend itself against claims it believes are false and instead use its money for charitable work.

[So then why didn't the archdiocese "defend itself " in this case?  Why did it settle with a plaintiff they claim is making the whole thing up?  Why not fight to a victory and use the money you won't be paying to the plaintiff for "charitable work"?] 

... Jerome O’Neill, a sexual abuse attorney in Burlington, Vt., said the confidential nature of the Jane Doe settlement is rare. In 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stipulated that settlements between victims and the church be disclosed to the public unless the plaintiff in the case requests privacy. 
Meanwhile, there have been some developments in the Fr. Jiang civil case, which I guarantee will never get to trial.  Too much will come out if it does - even if Fr. Jiang is innocent.

An unsettling settlement will be offered in that case as well.  It's just a question of when.

1 comment:

Drusilla Barron said...

Legal Note: Settlements are less expensive than trials. That's one of the main reason they are pursued. They're like plea agreements when a guilty or not guilty defendant chooses 5 years instead of facing the possibility of life. Trials cost huge amounts of money. After a trail, there are absolutely no savings only expense.