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Major Sexual Abuse Cases Within Church

Feb 25, 2002 | USA Today The Boston Archdiocese scandal is the latest in a series of cases that involve sexual abuse by priests. Here are some of the major cases:

1985: Louisiana — In what is considered the first public case of its kind, the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe admitted he sexually abused altar boys and members of the Lafayette Parish Boy Scout troop. Gauthe was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison. In the following years, the church paid at least $18 million to an estimated 70 victims and their families. Church officials admitted Gauthe was reassigned to a third parish church after suspicions were raised as early as 1974 about his behavior with young boys at two parishes he served.

1990: Minneapolis — A jury awarded $3.5 million to a man who sued church authorities. He said he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy. The man and his parents alleged that the church officials showed willful indifference by failing to remove the priest from duty though they knew of his 20-year history of abusing boys. The archdiocese changed the way it screens candidates.

1991: New Mexico — A long-running scandal began in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Eventually 17 priests were implicated, many of them who were sent to the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, a retreat that specializes in the treatment of pedophiles. More than 140 sexual-abuse lawsuits were filed against the archdiocese. Diocesan officials say the total settlement cost about $50 million.

1992: Chicago — After apologizing for a priest whose sexual misconduct continued after he was transferred to another parish, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin appointed a committee of lay people to review archdiocesan policies, including allegations made against some 50 priests over the past 40 years. A nine-member board, including six laypeople, was created to review all complaints and determine accused priests' fitness to serve.

1997: Dallas — Former altar boys who claimed to have been molested by a priest won a record $119.6 million settlement. They said several Diocese of Dallas officials, including two bishops, knew of the abuse for years but did not take appropriate action. The plaintiffs accepted $23.4 million a year later rather than risk the chance the diocese would have filed for bankruptcy.

2001: Los Angeles — The Orange County Diocese and Los Angeles Archdiocese announced a $5.2-million payout to an alleged victim of sexual abuse by a well-known priest. The dioceses also agreed to 11 rules, including a rule that says priests cannot be alone with minors in social situations, but it doesn't apply to routine church activities.

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