35 Sex-Abuse Lawsuits Filed, Chaput Reports

By Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News
December 6, 2006,1299,DRMN_15_5193043,00.html

Denver - A total of 35 sex-abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Archdiocese of Denver, four more than when Archbishop Charles Chaput first offered a mediation alternative in May.

Chaput outlined the status of the cases, all involving incidents that occurred between 25 and 52 years ago, in this week's Denver Catholic Register.

Charles Chaput says the archdiocese is committed to continuing mediation.

Six of those cases have been settled for "substantial" sums, Chaput said.

As previously reported, the settlements have varied between $100,000 and $150,000 each, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

An unspecified number of the other victims are still exploring the mediation process, attorneys have said.

None of the four new plaintiffs have chosen to do so, however, said archdiocesan spokeswoman Jeanette DeMelo on Tuesday.

Any cases not settled through mediation are scheduled for trial in 2007 if the church's motions to dismiss aren't granted.

In the article, which was in a question-and-answer format, Chaput said the archdiocese is committed to continuing mediation and called on victims to step forward.

"We have a serious calling to help any victim of clergy sexual abuse to heal," Chaput said.

But, he added, he also has to protect church resources on behalf of the people of "the Catholic community in northern Colorado."

"They have rights, too," Chaput said. "Many of them weren't even born when these incidents happened.

"They're innocent. As a bishop, I have a duty to protect them and their resources."

All of the sex-abuse charges involve either the Rev. Leonard Abercrombie, who died in 1994, or Harold Robert White, a defrocked priest who died suddenly last month in Mexico while vacationing with a priest currently serving the archdiocese.


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