|Former Priests Named in Abuse Suits Getting Paid Retirement
April 20, 2007
Spokane — The Catholic Diocese of Spokane is spending millions of dollars to settle abuse claims lodged against former priests. Now it appears the diocese will also be spending money to pay for the retirement of three priests named in those abuse claims as well.
Court documents reveal defrocked priests James O'Malley, Theodore Bradley and Arthur Mertens will continue to receive diocese pensions while local Catholics are asked to raise millions to pay for their sex abuse lawsuits.
Bankruptcy documents say the diocese will continue to pay all priest retirement plans including three priests that the diocese announced were credibly accused of abuse and put the diocese into this situation in the first place.
Lawsuits filed on behalf of 15 men allege they were sexually abused by former priest James O'Malley. Documents say the abuse spanned four decades. O'Malley was removed from ministry in 1989 and now lives in Ireland in a house on the Irish coast. The diocese monthly operating statements reveal O'Malley receives a check for $1,703 from the diocese every month, and that will continue after the diocese emerges from bankruptcy.
"Well, I think it's a real slap in the face to the victims that somebody could receive $1,700 a month when they should be in prison," abuse victim Rick Frizzell said.
Defrocked priests Theodore Bradley and Arthur Mertens will also continue to collect their diocese retirement after the chapter 11. Bradley recieves $1,398 a month while Mertens collects $1,250 a month.
Records show that one other former priest and serial pedophile Patrick O'Donnell is not receiving a pension from the diocese.
Next Tuesday, a bankruptcy court is expected to approve a reorganization plan that calls for the diocese to raise $48 Million to pay bankruptcy attorneys fees and sex abuse settlements. Local Catholics must contribute $10 Million to the deal, but abuse victims say they're disappointed the settlement does not require the abusive priests to pay a penny.
"They've ruined a lot of lives and now they're being rewarded for it," Frizzell said. "They're paying no penalty, the individual priests."
Money raised to pay the settlement will not go to pay the priests' retirement as that comes from another established fund.
Diocese attorney Shaun Cross declined to comment and answer why the diocese continues to pay these priests. Another source said that when someone becomes vested in a pension plan in most cases that money is protected and cannot be taken away.
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