$10M Payout in Abuse Cases
Religion: Carmelite Order, L.A. Diocese Settle Allegations
By Solvej Schou
Associated Press, carred in The Press-Telegram
October 27, 2006
Los Angeles - The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a Roman Catholic religious order will pay $10 million to several people to settle allegations of clergy sexual abuse, attorneys for those involved in the cases said Friday.
The Carmelite order will pay most of the settlement to seven people, including two who said they were sexually molested at an Encino high school, an attorney for that province of the Carmelite order said Friday. The archdiocese will contribute about 5 percent.
"We were glad to be able to work out a settlement, and we hope this brings peace to the people who are involved," said attorney Jim Geoly, representing the province of Carmelites involved in the lawsuit.
"We're satisfied with the archdiocese's participation. These particular claims involved accusations against Carmelites serving in Carmelite institutions," he said.
Attorney J. Michael Hennigan, who represents the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, told the Los Angeles Times that "we are encouraged by every settlement, and we hope every one leads to another."
Calls Friday to Hennigan's office were not immediately returned.
The defendants in the case included Dominic Savino, a Carmelite priest, who spent several years as a teacher and administrator at Crespi Carmelite High School, and John Knoernschild, a former principal at the school, Geoly said.
Three members of the order who were not associated with the school were also named. Two of them were priests, one of them a religious brother, Geoly said. All of them are deceased, he said.
Venus Soltan, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, said the amount awarded in each case averaged $1.4 million.
"We are pleased that the Carmelites stepped forward to resolve their cases apart from the archdiocese cases, which are still not being settled or resolved," she said.
John C. Manly, a victim's lawyer, credited the judge behind the settlement but lambasted the archdiocese.
"We're very happy for our clients, but the reality is that this settlement was after four years of wrangling," he said.
Savino was ousted as Crespi president in 2002 and suspended from the priesthood by the Carmelites, who operate the school, after they learned of the allegations of sexual abuse, Geoly said.
He started at Crespi in 1977 as a part-time counselor, after working at De Sales High School in Louisville, Ky. He also worked for a time in Rome, Geoly said.
Savino left Crespi in 1986 to pursue a doctorate in psychology, then returned to the school in 1995.
The seven Carmelite cases are dwarfed by more than 560 unresolved cases by people who claim they were abused by Catholic priests in Southern California over the last 70 years. That litigation has been pending for years.
Last March, Franciscan friars reached a preliminary settlement of more than $28 million with about 25 people who claimed they were sexually abused at a now-defunct Santa Barbara seminary and mission.
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