Archdiocese of Milwaukee Offers Comparison for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse | Secrets of the Vatican | FRONTLINE | PBS
It has been more than a decade since the Catholic Church was embroiled in clerical sexual abuse lawsuits in the United States. On Tuesday, one of the largest cases in the scandal moved closer to resolution after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced it would pay around 330 alleged abuse victims $ 21 million.
The agreement would end the longest-running church bankruptcy in US history, but even for a case of this magnitude is one of the smallest comparisons that have emerged from the scandal. If finally approved by a judge, the comparison would be fourth largest in terms of the number of alleged victims but 27th in terms of compensation, according to data on the BishopAccountability.org website.
A key sticking point in the negotiations was $ 57 million in archdiocese funds that were diverted to a cemetery fund, a move that protected church funds from abuse victims’ legal claims. In the FRONTLINE study 2014 Secrets of the Vatican, Attorney Jeff Anderson said the plaintiffs had evidence that approval for the rendition came direct from the Vatican.
“For me it was designed to do one thing, which is to keep the Archdiocese and the Vatican from being held accountable for their crimes and complicity,” Anderson told FRONTLINE on the lower scene of the film, arguing that the Vatican was one Played a key role in protecting and covering the accused priests. “No other real or legitimate reason.”
The church argued that the money was always attributed to the cemeteries, and a court upheld the transfer. In 2011, four years after the Trust was established, the Church filed for bankruptcy amid growing allegations.
Prior to the deal earlier this week, it had offered $ 4 million to around 125 alleged victims.
“Today we are opening a terrible part of our history and embarking on a new path lined with hope, forgiveness and love,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki in a statement. “This is how we remember the injured; keep them in our prayers; to support them through therapy and healing; the promise never to forget the evil that happened; and work hard to ensure that something like this never happens again. “
If approved, the settlement and associated legal costs will be financed with $ 16 million from the cemetery fund, with an additional $ 11 million from the archdiocese’s insurance carriers. The Archdiocese will also reserve US $ 500,000 for therapy for alleged victims.
Around 240 alleged victims would be excluded from the settlement, including those who previously sued the church or received settlements from previous cases.
Among those who did not receive compensation is Monica Barrett, who claimed to have been raped by Father William Effinger in 1968 when she was 8 years old. Her 1993 lawsuit was dismissed on statute of limitations, but the Diocese of Milwaukee sued her for reimbursement of $ 14,000 in legal fees.
Barrett, who shared her abuse history in Secrets of the Vaticansaid that National Catholic Reporter, “It’s very hard for the people who don’t get anything, but it’s also hard for those who are paid… How will that give a sense of healing when the person you’ve been standing with all these years is nothing receives?”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has spent more than $ 70 million on its clerical sexual abuse crisis over the years, including legal fees, settlements, and payments for therapies. The United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference estimates the Catholic Church has spent nearly $ 3 billion in responding to abuse allegations since 2004.
The news of the deal comes as Pope Francis tries to set a new tone for the Vatican in its response to allegations of sexual abuse by clergymen. In June, Pope Francis approved the formation of a tribunal to hear cases of bishops accused of covering up cases of child sexual abuse by priests. Last year he met with victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.
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