Archdiocese Spent $432,843 for Costs Related to Abuse Cases

By Patricia Rice
Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
September 10, 2003

The Archdiocese of St. Louis spent $432,843 last fiscal year for expenses related to sexual abuse, according to preliminary figures.

That is the first full fiscal year - it ended June 30 - since Archbishop Justin Rigali invited the public to come forward with any credible accusation of sexual abuse by priests.

In the previous fiscal year, which covered four months of the crisis here, the archdiocese spent $175,883 on sexual abuse-related expenses.

The audit, by outside accountants, will be published around Thanksgiving. The preliminary total includes medical treatment and other payments to victims, and legal expenses, but not housing costs and health insurance for priests removed from ministry.

The archdiocese faces 18 civil suits and is working with 20 other people who have brought complaints directly to the archdiocese, Rigali said in an interview Wednesday. About five more complaints have been resolved in the past year.

"That's vastly different to Boston, with 552 cases," Rigali said.

Early last month, a former FBI official gave the archdiocese high marks after a weeklong audit of its compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, passed by the American bishops in June last year, Rigali said.

The independent investigation company, the Gavin Co., of Washington, runs the audit. Gavin auditors went through archdiocesan records and interviewed archdiocesan officials, civil authorities and two victims. More victims were invited but declined to participate, Rigali said. Gavin's results will be made public in December.

"We were judged compliant," Rigali said. "We are very happy."

Rigali invited anyone who has complaints of sexual abuse by priests to come to the archdiocese.

"Even if the statute of limitations has passed, we want to listen to them, help them," he said.

If it looks likely that someone has been abused as a minor by a priest, the archdiocese wants to provide treatment for that person, he said. And, if someone seems unlikely to have been abused by a priest, but clearly needs treatment, the archdiocese also helps, Rigali said.

Rigali also talked about a one-on-one visit he had on Friday with Pope John Paul II in Rome.

"He's alert, makes incredible efforts but is very weak," said Rigali.

Reporter Patricia Rice:


Phone: 314-340-8221

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