Archdiocese Lists Details of Settlements
Church, Priests Paid $640,000 In Abuse Claims Dating To '83Dec 16, 2002 | The Courier-Journal
Newly released court documents show the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville and individual priests agreed to pay almost $640,000 over the past 20 years to 12 people after claims of sexual abuse.
The documents, provided by the church to Jefferson Circuit Court in conjunction with the 200 pending sex-abuse lawsuits against the archdiocese, give a partial accounting of the cost of sexual abuse to the archdiocese and some of its priests.
The archdiocese would not discuss the figures, but the settlements were made between 1983 and this summer for people bringing claims against a half-dozen priests. The payments ranged from $7,000 to $207,000.
In most cases, the documents do not spell out how much was paid by the archdiocese, by individual priests or by insurance.
Nor do the documents reflect legal fees or counseling costs. Archdiocesan officials have said such costs were included in other expenses.
Only in the last fiscal year, when the lawsuits were just beginning, did the archdiocese begin keeping a separate account of such costs. It said in October that it paid $250,495 in abuserelated costs in the fiscal year ended June 30. Those costs include legal, counseling and communications expenses.
The archdiocese had provided the documents related to the 12 settlements to the court earlier this year but had blacked out the names of the complainants and the dollar amounts. A Jefferson circuit judge subsequently required the church to provide the names and money figures.
Six of the 12 claims were against the Rev. Louis E. Miller, two against the Rev. Daniel C. Clark and one each against four other priests.
Three of the alleged victims have lawsuits pending against the archdiocese.
In only two of the cases has the accused priest admitted guilt publicly, and a police investigation failed to substantiate the accusations in another case. None of the documents indicate the nature of the alleged abuse.
Miller and Clark, who were permanently removed from ministry earlier this year, are awaiting trial on criminal charges.
Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the archdiocese, said he could not comment on the settlements because the archdiocese and the claimants agreed not to speak publicly about them.
Reynolds has said previously that the archdiocese enters such agreements to help with such costs as counseling, and that often the complainants request confidentiality.
Because the cases involve allegations of sexual abuse, the names of the alleged victims are not included unless they have recently filed civil suits or have agreed to be named.
Here is a summary of the claims:
The largest payment, $207,000, was made to settle a lawsuit against the archdiocese and Clark in 1989. Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to molesting that plaintiff and another boy in the early 1980s. Clark is also named in 19 pending lawsuits and faces further criminal charges.
The next-largest payment, $200,000, was made in 1992 to a man who said the Rev. Joseph Stoltz had sexually abused him years earlier.
Stoltz acknowledged the incident earlier this year when Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly removed him from ministry, after Catholic bishops voted to ban anyone from ministry who committed even a single act of abuse.
The archdiocese's insurance carrier covered $60,000 of that payment, the only indication in the documents of any insurance compensation to the archdiocese.
Stoltz is also accused by another man in a pending lawsuit.
The archdiocese paid $10,500 in 1995 to Robert Mattingly and provided him some counseling for alleged abuse by the late Rev. Arthur Wood. Mattingly is among 36 people now suing over alleged abuse by Wood.
Mattingly agreed not to sue the archdiocese for any claim, but William McMurry, the attorney handling the bulk of the civil suits filed against the archdiocese since April, said that waiver is invalid because the church had failed to disclose to Mattingly that others had reported alleged sexual abuse by Wood. The priest died in 1983 at age 59.
''The reason I reached the agreement when I did was I had people hounding me for money, threatening to sue me,'' said Mattingly, who said he now owes about $50,000 more in bills for additional therapy. ''But in hindsight, I would not have entered into a contract with them, had I known they had the (information) about him.''
Mattingly said he understands the legal difficulty of bringing a lawsuit after having signed an agreement.
''I'm not going to be downhearted'' if it is dismissed, he said. ''At least I've been able to talk about the story and get it out in the open. People are finally realizing what really was going on.''
The archdiocese settled a claim against Clark in 1997, paying $23,150 to a man who said Clark abused him a decade earlier while working at St. John Vianney Church.
The archdiocese made a $25,000 payment to Mark Delmenhorst and his then-wife, who both sued in 1990, saying Miller abused Delmenhorst as a teenager in 1977. Delmenhorst's complaint prompted the archdiocese to remove Miller from ministry with children in 1990.
In 1996, the archdiocese made payments of $7,000 each to two women bringing claims against Miller.
In 2000, Miller himself reached a $60,000 settlement of a lawsuit with his niece, Mary Miller, who had sued him in connection with alleged sexual abuse. The settlement documents say the archdiocese became a party to the agreement, lending money to the priest to help resolve a case that could ''have an adverse effect on the perception of the church and its priests.''
The priest agreed to pay $20,000 up front and to pay his niece and her lawyer installments up to the year 2020.
Mary Miller is now suing the archdiocese, alleging the archdiocese entered the agreement under fraudulent terms for failing to disclose under oath that there was a prior lawsuit against Miller.
The archdiocese paid $25,000 each this summer to two people bringing claims against Miller.
The archdiocese paid $20,000 in 1983 to Gregory C. Hall for alleged sexual abuse by the Rev. Thomas Creagh. Hall and three other people are now suing the archdiocese over alleged abuse by Creagh, who was removed from ministry this year.
Hall alleged that the archdiocese breached an agreement to remove Creagh from ministry with children at the time. Such an agreement does not appear in writing, but Hall's father testified in a deposition in his son's lawsuit that there was a verbal agreement.
The archdiocese paid $30,000 in 1998 to a man who brought a claim against the Rev. Thomas Clark, who has not been named in any criminal case or civil lawsuit.
According to files provided by police to The Courier-Journal, police found they could not substantiate the claim, and they raised some questions about the man's credibility and ''unclear accounts of the alleged events.''
Reynolds has said the church offered the alleged victim a financial settlement because of difficulties he was facing as an adult. The church felt continued concern for the man because the priest had cared for him after a juvenile court judge placed the boy in Clark's custody, Reynolds said.