A Roman Catholic religious order based in Aurora has agreed to pay two California brothers $2.1 million to settle their claims that a priest from the order sexually molested them thousands of times in the 1980s, when they were children.
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the religious order that ordained the Rev. Edward Ball in 1966, is paying half of a $4.2 million settlement reached jointly with the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., where Ball served when the abuse occurred.
In their lawsuit, the California brothers, who are two years apart, said Ball began molesting each of them when they were about 11 years old. Their suit said the abuse continued with one brother until he was about 17 and with the other brother until he was about 19, lasting from 1979 to 1988.
“It was a large sum of money but I think the victims have suffered considerably,” the Rev. David Foxen, provincial of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Order, said Wednesday.
The settlement was the largest the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart has ever paid. The order has about 70 priests in the United States, most of them over the age of 65. The order’s insurance will pay for the bulk of the $2.1 settlement, Foxen said.
Ball pleaded guilty in 1992 to fondling three other boys in San Bernardino between 1990 and 1992 and served nine months in jail. A civil lawsuit related to that abuse was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
After being released from jail and spending about six months in a Maryland treatment center that specializes in sexually abusive clergy, Ball was sent to live in his religious order’s provincial house in Aurora, Foxen said.
“To the best of my knowledge, he was never stationed in Illinois when he was in active ministry,” Foxen said.
He said that, when Ball lived at the Aurora monastery, “He was not permitted to do any kind of outside ministry, had no contact with children and his comings and goings were well supervised.”
In 1999, Ball was extradited from Aurora to California to stand trial on criminal charges relating to the abuse for which the two men won the $4.2 million settlement, Foxen said. In 2001, Ball was sentenced to three years in a prison for molesting the two brothers, but his conviction is likely to be overturned because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the California law that extended the statute of limitations and allowed the 20-year-old abuse case to be tried.