St. Louis Archdiocese Settles More Cases of Clergy Abuse
By Jim Suhr
Associated Press, carried in Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
February 14, 2005
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Archdiocese of St. Louis has agreed to pay $267,500 in mediation to settle seven more cases involving clergy sexual abuse, bringing to $2.4 million the payout covering 31 cases over the past 13 months, a lawyer for the archdiocese said Monday.
A claim in an eighth case apparently will be paid by a religious order.
The latest cases settled involved five archdiocesan priests, including three -- Michael McGrath, Donald "Father Duck" Straub and Robert Yim -- recently defrocked by the Vatican but never criminally charged.
Another newly settled case involved Romano Ferraro, convicted in May of raping a boy in Massachusetts in the 1970s. A St. Louis man sued Ferraro in January 2004, accusing him of raping him in the early 1980s when Ferraro lived here but was not assigned to any St. Louis parish duties. Ferraro -- suspended from priestly duties in 1988 -- is serving a life sentence in Massachusetts.
An eighth case resolved last month involved Vincentian Father Richard Lause.
His claim will be paid by the Vincentians.
McGrath's accusers have included Christopher Klump, a 30-year-old ex-Marine found dead in March 2003 in a St. Louis hotel room. Though Klump's death certificate ruled the death an "accident," a wrongful-death lawsuit claims Klump fatally overdosed on cocaine to escape emotional scars from McGrath's molestations years earlier.
Archdiocesan attorney Bernard Huger said nine other cases of clergy abuse of minors -- most involving lawsuits -- remain unresolved.
Huger said archdiocese officials look at each case individually, and "we try to assess what would be a realistic amount to try to help them with healing, both for what's foreseeable and unforeseeable."
Jamie Allman, a spokesman for the archdiocese, called the settlements "part of (Archbishop Raymond Burke's) continuing commitment to those abused at the hands of priests, and we'll continue to do what we can to help these victims."
"The archbishop deplores the grave evil of sexual abuse of a minor and reiterates his and the archdiocese's concern for the welfare of all children," the archdiocese has said.
Huger said that of the $2,399,300 in settlements involving the 31 resolved
cases, roughly $742,000 was recovered from an insurance carrier. The rest has
been covered by archdiocese reserves.
The mediated payouts are separate from the more than $1.6 million paid by the archdiocese in June to a St. Louis family that accused the Rev. Gary Wolken -- now also in prison -- of sexually abusing their son. In all, since 1994, the archdiocese has paid more than $5 million in sex abuse settlements.
"We hope this helps relieve some of the horrific pain each of these innocent victims suffered and still suffer," said David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group. "No settlement, however, can restore the shattered trust, stolen innocence and damaged self-esteem of individuals who have been violated in unimaginable ways by trusted priests, brothers and nuns."
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