Diocese Settles with 11 Who Said They Were Abused

By Darren Barbee
November 22, 2006

The Fort Worth Diocese has reached a settlement with 11 men who said they were sexually abused by an Arlington priest when they were Catholic altar boys, the men's Dallas attorney said.

At the men's request, the exact financial terms of the settlement will not be revealed. But the amount is at least $1 million, said Tahira Khan Merritt, who represented the men.

A diocese spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Rev. James Reilly was accused by the men of abuse while he led St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Arlington. As part of the settlement reached early Wednesday morning, the diocese agreed to remove his name from buildings and plaques at his former parish, Merritt said. Reilly died in 1999 from complications of Alzheimer's.

The agreement also requires Bishop Kevin W. Vann to hold masses at the parish to acknowledge the abuse and apologize, Merritt said. Vann became bishop last year, long after Reilly left the diocese.

In addition to money, the diocese will pay for one year of counseling for each of the men, she said. A trust fund of about $600,000 that Reilly set up to benefit the diocese will instead be used to pay for counseling for victims of sexual abuse by Fort Worth clergy, Merritt said.

"I think that the closing of this part of the case will bring some closure to the guys," she said.

Reilly led St. Maria Goretti from November 1967 until September 1987 and also served as an instructor at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. In court documents, the 11 men said Reilly fondled and kissed them beginning when one was 8 years old. Five of the men live in Tarrant County. Others live in Harris and Travis counties, Virginia and Washington.

The lawsuit also alleged that Bishop Joseph P. Delaney, who died in 2005, "spirited Reilly out of Texas" in 1987 and knew Reilly worked at a parish in Philadelphia "despite the knowledge that he was a sexually predatory cleric."


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