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CLERGY SEX ABUSE CASES: Church Spent $2.3 Million

Feb 20, 2003 | St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has spent more than $2.3 million related to clergy sexual abuse in the past 14 years, according to a report in today's edition of the Catholic Spirit newspaper.

The archdiocese also has spent $700,000 over 10 years for abuse-related insurance coverage, according to the newspaper, which is published by the archdiocese.

The $2.3 million figure includes:

• $1.2 million for care and counseling of victims and priests.

• $629,584 specifically to settle the case of the former Rev. Thomas Adamson, which began in 1988 and spanned several years.

• $505,920 in legal costs for an unspecified number of other cases.

The $2.3 million did not come from parish collections or the annual archdiocese fund-raising appeal, according to the newspaper.

But the premiums for the special abuse liability coverage have cost parishioners about 1/100th of a penny for each dollar they donate, the report said.

"This is the first time the whole picture of costs related to clergy sexual abuse has been reported,'' archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath told the Pioneer Press on Wednesday. "We may have disclosed certain numbers here and there. But this is the first comprehensive look at how much money we have spent and where the money comes from.''

The $2.3 million came from an 80-year-old clergy benefit fund set up for "extraordinary needs of the clergy,'' the Catholic Spirit reported. The fund was set up by donations from the prominent Hill and Lindley families.

The fund, which increased because of further donations and stock market returns over the years, now has a balance of $2.1 million, the report stated. The fund was initially set up to provide for clergy health insurance and retirement plans.

The Rev. Kevin McDonough, chief of staff for the archdiocese, told the Catholic Spirit that former Archbishop John Roach determined in the 1980s that abuse-related expenses would be separate from money donated by parishioners.

In addition to the archdiocese's costs, insurers have paid about $5 million in settlements, legal fees and related costs in the past 20 years, the newspaper said.

Most dioceses have not publicly revealed abuse-related costs. According to recent news reports, the Milwaukee Archdiocese ran up nearly $6.3 million in costs related to sexual abuse cases involving minors. The Madison (Wis.) Diocese has paid out $1.6 million to 19 victims in the past two decades, Bishop William Bullock announced Tuesday.

The Archdiocese of Boston in September agreed to pay $10 million to settle 84 lawsuits against defrocked priest John J. Geoghan and church officials, according to the Boston Globe. Boston still faces suits brought by more than 500 claimants and has not disclosed how much it has previously spent to settle other cases, the Globe has said.


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