More Victims Opt out of Class Action Lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Diocese

By Bill Price
WCPO [Kentucky]
January 28, 2004

Another seven victims of alleged priest sexual abuse have now settled their claims against the Diocese of Covington.

They will now be among 39 alleged victims to opt out of a class action lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Diocese.

In a statement issued Wednesday the Diocese of Covington said it is setting aside over $8 million to settle the 39 claims, meaning the payout to these alleged victims will top $210,000 a piece.

That is five times the average amount set aside by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and twice as much as the Lexington Archdiocese for settling over 300 other pending sexual abuse lawsuits.

On the same day that the Covington Diocese held a special mass to salute Catholic schools, it was also announcing that its settlement with alleged sexual abuse victims had grown considerably over the last month.

By adding seven new victims to the settlement, it now covers 39 people who say they were abused by priests in the diocese since the 1950s.

The amount the diocese is setting aside has grown from $6 million to $8.3 million.

In the statement, the diocese says it's especially pleased that each of these resolutions was achieved through personal outreach and dialogue with the victims and with as much attention to the victims' spiritual needs as to their financial needs.

One alleged victim of priest abuse in Campbell County in the early 1980s was one of the seven new victims to agree to the settlement and pull out of the class action lawsuit.

"I felt like the class action, I didn't know if it would ever be over," the victim said.

He said getting a chance to actually talk with the bishop, after agreeing to the settlement made a big difference for him and his family.

"Once I decided I didn't want to go that route, I had these opportunities to meet with the Bishop almost immediately and then a second time with my parents. That was a big one," the victim said.

Meanwhile, word of the settlement with some victims of priest abuse in the Covington Diocese gave new hope to Cincinnati victims like Bruce Gehring.

"There's a phase of this we need to get past in the Cincinnati Archdiocese. We need to get to the phase of rebuilding confidence in the church and a big block is these litigation issues that are out there now," Gehring said.

Wednesday's announcement comes as a Saturday deadline approaches for alleged sexual abuse victims to opt out of an on-going class action lawsuit against the Covington Diocese.

One of the lawyers handling that lawsuit said he does not expect the expanded settlement to affect that lawsuit.

He noted the settlement offer to alleged Covington Diocese victims has grown 20 times bigger since the class action lawsuit was accepted by the courts.


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