4 Settle Diocese Suits over Abuse by Priests
Details under Wraps after Mediation
By Manny Gonzales
November 13, 2006
Four people who are among 30 parties suing the Denver Roman Catholic Archdiocese involving allegations of sexual abuse by priests settled their cases through mediation, church officials confirmed Monday.
The archdiocese declined to reveal details about the settlements.
"We prefer to allow the settlement process to run its full course," archdiocese spokeswoman Jeanette DeMelo said. "We're not going to talk about any particular case at this time."
Miami attorney Jeffrey Herman confirmed that one of the settlements involved Roger Colburn of Strasburg, who filed a lawsuit last year accusing the late Rev. Leonard Abercrombie of molesting him on a camping trip 36 years ago.
A relative of Colburn's contacted late Monday said Colburn did not care to comment at this time.
Herman said the settlements involved four of his 19 clients and that another handful are still in discussions. In cases where deals have been struck, the archdiocese has agreed to pay settlements of between $100,000 and $150,000 to each plaintiff, Herman said.
"Some of the victims are still demanding that the archdiocese reveal their files, at least to the extent that they show what allegations of abuse are there pertaining to (former Denver priest Harold Robert) White and Abercrombie," Herman said.
The archdiocese recently hired a prominent mediator to broker financial settlements in 30 lawsuits that allege people were sexually abused by priests and revictimized by church officials intent on a coverup.
The lawsuits focus on decades- old allegations against Abercrombie and White, who was defrocked in 2003.
Jeffrey Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., lawyer who represents 11 accusers of White, had said earlier settlement offers were rejected because his clients want the archdiocese to open its personnel files on accused priests and reveal perpetrators' names.
Staff writer Eric Gorski contributed to this report.
Staff writer Manny Gonzales can be reached at 303-954-1537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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