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  Ex-Teacher Accused As Molester Won't Get Diocese Money

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
February 10, 2006

http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/115256

Former Catholic school teacher and accused child molester Phillip Gregory Speers will not receive any money from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

Federal Bankruptcy Judge James M. Marlar this week dismissed a claim for money that Speers, 33, filed against the diocese last year.

Speers, a Tucson native and University of Arizona graduate, sought compensation from the diocese's bankrupt estate under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, claiming the diocese used him as a scapegoat during the priest-abuse crisis.

Speers claimed he was maliciously and falsely accused of molesting girls in the second-grade class he taught at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Yuma, and that the diocese was responsible. Yuma is part of the local diocese, which includes nine counties.

The diocese's insurance company paid five of the girls who said they were his victims, plus their families, a $1.8 million settlement in 2003.

Speers, known as Greg, was convicted of child molestation and of possessing child pornography in two separate trials. But both convictions were reversed by the Arizona Court of Appeals and he is in the Yuma County jail awaiting retrial.

In her objection to Speers' claim, diocesan attorney Susan Boswell said Speers' convictions were not the result of any action taken by the diocese or its employees, nor did the diocese injure Speers in any way.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy reorganization in September 2004 in the face of potentially expensive litigation over the sexual abuse of children by members of the local clergy.

The diocese's reorganization plan was confirmed last summer, along with a $22.2 million settlement trust for abuse victims.

Marlar this week also was expected to approve a $200,000 contribution to the settlement trust from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

Until 1969, churches in the Diocese of Phoenix were part of the Diocese of Tucson. Three of the priest-abuse cases that were settled under the Tucson Diocese's bankruptcy plan were alleged to have occurred before 1969 and named churches and priests in Phoenix.

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or sinnes@azstarnet.com

 
 

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