Monday, July 16, 2007

Victims React to Catholic Archdiocese Sexual Abuse Settlement

More follow up on the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese's settlement in the 500+ pending sexual abuse lawsuits. Here's a part of a story from the LA Times (,1,7003241.story?coll=la-headlines-california&ctrack=1&cset=true). As the story suggests, the settlement was not agreed to because it was the right think to do, but rather in order to protect Mahoney and possibly his superiors. While they might have been able to duck other charges, they (1) would have been forced to answer questions potentially leading to the Vatican and (2) would not have been exempt from potential pergury charges. Here's highlights of the story:
[Cardinal] Mahony, in his first public statement since the Los Angeles Archdiocese's record $660-million settlement was reached with 508 claimants, said he told the victims, "Your life, I wish were like a VHS tape, we could put the tape in … and delete these years of difficulty and misery."

But attorneys and advocates for the victims said they were skeptical of Mahony's timing for the settlement, noting that the pact announced Saturday, after 4 1/2 years of negotiations, came just before the first case was set to go to trial, with the cardinal slated to testify. And they said they fear they will never learn the full truth about the accused and those who may have shielded them, including Mahony."He avoided the No. 1 thing he fears, which is disclosing under oath how much he knew and how little he did about predatory priests," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
"We have another huge fight ahead," said attorney Katherine Freberg, who represents 109 victims. Mahony said he would turn everything over to the retired judge, but noted that some documents, such as psychiatric reports that the archdiocese had fought to keep sealed, might not be disclosed publicly. Individual priests are expected to raise legal objections.
Attorney Freberg said part of the reason the amount is so high is that the archdiocese delayed a settlement with scorched-earth legal tactics."It has been like painful dental surgery trying to get this information," she said. "Having fought this battle for so long, I am absolutely convinced we will never know the whole story."
As the first half a dozen of her cases were set to go to trial, Freberg said, the archdiocese turned over one file on each abuser marked "personnel," containing routine business matters.She then had to file a motion to compel the archdiocese to provide the "confidential files" containing the history of abuse complaints, and how they were handled.Then, after taking depositions from diocesan employees, she learned the documents were kept "in a host of other places," including parishes, schools, regional offices and with clergy misconduct boards.
Again, Freberg had to go to the judge to compel the archdiocese to hand over those files.After a year and a half of battling, plaintiffs had files for five or six priests — out of more than 200 accused perpetrators.
A story in the Washigton Post echos the concerns that the full truth will never be known:

Perez-Carrillo, 41, said the combined settlement is "an important step that does bring healing." But he added: "You can't put a dollar sign on a lost childhood and a long life of trauma. There's no way to go back and regain what you've lost."

The apology came a day after the archdiocese, its insurers and several Roman Catholic religious orders agreed to pay an average of $1.3 million to each of the 508 alleged victims to settle their claims, rather than go to trial. The archdiocese also agreed to release confidential files that disclose how the church relocated abusive clergy.The settlement, which will be formally announced before a Los Angeles judge today, means more than Mahony's apology in terms of vindicating victims' grievances, said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
"The validation of a settlement -- a formal, clear acknowledgment that terrible crimes happened and could have been prevented -- that means far more to victims than just flowery words," Clohessy said. "Many, many survivors have shown great patience and tenacity. They stuck their necks out, they reported terrible crimes, they took action, and they exposed predators. . . . But by the same token, some survivors clearly wanted their day in court to further expose the duplicity of the hierarchy. That won't happen." Clohessy said most of the thousands of victims in touch with the survivors network are unwilling to speak publicly about their ordeals or the weekend's developments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Do good, avoid evil," is the first moral law of Holy Mother Church. So, she espouses sexism, hides pedophiles, and demands celibacy, but rejects contraception, abortion, and homosexuality -- on what grounds? Oh, Aquinas's confusion of pagan Aristotle's natural teleology and instrumental reasoning. Methinks she needs to get real values, not false ones, and REPENT. The PENANCE of pay-off does NOT count, by her own silly-ass rules.