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  Diocese Lists Abuse Payments
Over Last Decade, Victims Received $757,131 for Counseling, Compensation.

By Renee K. Gadoua
The Post-Standard [Syracuse NY]
August 22, 2003

The Syracuse Diocese has spent $757,131 since 1993 to pay for counseling and settlements for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The amount is listed in a financial statement for 2001-2002 the diocese released Tuesday on its Web site and Thursday in its weekly newspaper, The Catholic Sun. It is the first time the Syracuse Diocese has released a financial statement and the first time it has reported the amount spent in the sexual abuse scandal.

"People wanted transparency, and not just for the sexual misconduct issue," said Danielle Cummings, communications director for the seven-county Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. "We were also receiving letters based on the financial situation and news of staff reductions and personnel changes."

The diocese has blamed financial instability and declines in investment for poor performance in the last three annual HOPE Appeal campaigns. A $700,000 shortfall in 2002 led to the elimination of 20 positions and changes in hours or duties of 13 others.

In the last 10 years, the diocese paid $184,631 for counseling expenses for sexual misconduct victims. Legal com- pensation, which includes

fees and settlements, totaled $572,500.

Payments came from a Protected Self-Insurance Fund, according to the diocese. The statement does not list the premiums agencies pay for self-insurance, the total amount in the fund or any investment revenue from the fund.

The statement includes primarily claims associated with clergy sex abuse cases since 1993. Before then, Cummings said, claims were not clearly identified as sexual abuse allegations.

Since 1973, when the diocese began self-insuring, it paid $22,193,126 for all other claims, including liability, workers' compensation, automobile and property.

The statementdoes not list the number of victims or cases. Nor does it list amounts for individual cases.

Since the national sexual abuse scandal exploded in early 2002, officials in the Syracuse Diocese have refused to disclose the total allegations against priests, the number of victims or the amount it paid in settlements, legal fees or counseling to victims.

Diocesan officials have confirmed that it permanently removed eight priests from ministry because of credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors. A review board is investigating allegations against two other priests who were named in recent lawsuits.

The diocese and its lawyers refuse to discuss pending suits, but acknowledge the diocese faces more than 10 lawsuits seeking at least $302.5 million and accusing five priests of sexual abuse.

In 1998, the diocese paid two Oswego families a total of $475,000 to settle lawsuits that accused the former Rev. Daniel Casey of molesting three boys in the 1980s.

In 1999, the diocese paid about $75,000 to Jon Mosley, one of five men who have accused Monsignor Francis Furfaro of sexual abuse.

The diocese also acknowledged paying about $17,710 to Victoria Love, of Rochester, in 1993. The Rev. William Lorenz, former pastor of St. Joseph Church, Oneida, resigned as pastor in June 2002 after disclosing he had had a sexual relationship with Love when she was a minor. A lawyer for Love filed a $20 million lawsuit against the Syracuse Diocese last September.

The RochesterDiocese, which includes Cayuga and Tompkins counties, paid $426,000 from July 1, 1992, to June 20, 2002, for counseling for sexual abuse victims and their families, settlements with victims, and legal expenses, according to a financial statement posted on the diocese's Web site.

Settlements account for 49 percent of that amount; 20 percent for legal expenses and 31 percent was spent on counseling, said Doug Mandelaro, diocesan director of communications.

During the same period, the diocese paid $12.5 million for all other claims, he said.

The Rochester Diocese has published its financial statement in its newspaper since 1999-2000.

Since May 2002, the Rochester Diocese has removed seven priests from ministry because of credible allegations of sexual abuse, Mandelaro said.

Officials in Rochester do not disclose the number of pending or settled lawsuits, he said.

In the Syracuse Diocese, the fiscal year ended June 30. An audit of finances for 2002-2003 is expected within six months, Cummings said.
 
 
 

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