Agreement Reached on Sexual Abuse Claims in California
Archdiocese to Pay $8.25 Million
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
September 1, 2006
Milwaukee - The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has reached resolution with all 10 victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse in California. The global agreement, which will pay the 10 victims/survivors $16.65 million, resulted from a two-day court-ordered mediation. Under the agreement, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will pay $8.25 million – approximately half the amount – with the remainder being paid by insurance.
The archdiocese's financial responsibility will be fulfilled through current financial holdings, including properties owned by the archdiocese and the liquidation of some short- and long-term investments. Included in this will be the proceeds from the sale of the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center, which were initially intended to benefit Saint Francis Seminary and the future formation of men preparing for priesthood, and other property that had been designated for future pastoral, educational or charitable ministries of the Church. This agreement will not affect any parish property. Archdiocesan officials are currently structuring how the payment will be made.
Each of the 10 cases was filed in California under a controversial law passed by the California Legislature in 2002 that suspended the statute of limitations on clergy sexual abuse cases for one year. The abuse was committed in California by two former diocesan priests – Siegfried Widera, now deceased, and Franklyn Becker, now laicized.
"Our hope, always, is to continue our progress in reaching resolution with anyone who was a victim of clergy sexual abuse," said Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. "We believe this agreement brings closure to all the cases in California and, hopefully, provides healing for victims/survivors. It also allows the archdiocese to continue its work toward resolution with victims/survivors here, and, through sacrifice, continue its ministry and work throughout southeastern Wisconsin. A priority in that ministry is continued outreach to victims/survivors here at home and diligent attention to our effective policies to see that such abuse will not occur in the future."
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