Cincinnati Archdiocese Fund Criticized

By Terry Kinney
The News-Sentinel [Cincinnati OH]
November 21, 2003

CINCINNATI - The $3 million fund created by the Cincinnati Archdiocese to compensate people who say they were sexually abused by priests is so small it is "a slap in the face," an attorney representing some alleged victims said Friday.

"I call this not a victims' fund, but a re-victimization fund," said Konrad Kircher, who represents 67 plaintiffs.

Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the 515,000-member Roman Catholic archdiocese, said the church was as generous as it can be without special permission from the Vatican.

"It's the largest amount that a diocesan bishop can spend in any one place without permission," Andriacco said.

Kircher said if all his clients withdrew their suits and only a few more people came forward, claims could easily total 100. "That comes out to $30,000 per victim, and that is grossly disproportionate to other settlements in the nation," he said.

According to Kircher, the $25 million settlement by the Diocese of Louisville meant $108,000 per plaintiff, and an $85 million settlement in the Boston Archdiocese averaged $152,000.

Andriacco noted that those payouts stemmed from litigated settlements, not voluntary agreements.

"It (the $3 million) may pale in comparison to what lawyers are asking for, but we don't believe that any of those lawsuits that are beyond the statute of limitations could succeed," Andriacco said.

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, in announcing the fund, said he knew it was only a token.

"I realize, of course, that no amount of money can take away the pain and suffering of those who have been injured by sexual abuse as children," Pilarczyk said. "But I hope that the fund can bring a measure of closure and reconciliation to the victims of child abuse by agents of the archdiocese."

Pilarczyk, leader of the archdiocese since December 1982, accepted responsibility Thursday for the "institutional" failure of the archdiocese to report allegations of sex crimes by priests.

The archdiocese pleaded no contest Thursday to five misdemeanor counts, one for each year from 1978 to 1982, and was fined $10,000.

No victims or priests were named, no specific dates were cited and the church admitted no wrongdoing, essentially saying it would not fight the validity of the charges. The archdiocese is the third to strike a deal with prosecutors in a criminal investigation.


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