|Clergy Abuse Victims Here to Get $7.5M
Five Will Evenly Split Sum As Part of Big L.A. Archdiocese Settlement
By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
July 17, 2007
Tucson, Arizona — Five former altar boys from Tucson will each receive $1.5 million as part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' $660 million clergy abuse settlement.
The five men, all now in their late 30s, say they were abused by the Rev. Kevin Barmasse while he was a visiting priest from Los Angeles serving in two Tucson-area churches during the 1980s.
Barmasse, now living in the Los Angeles area, is no longer allowed to minister as a priest but was never criminally prosecuted for the abuse allegations. He could not be reached for comment.
A judge in Los Angeles on Monday approved the $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse, the largest payout yet in a nationwide sex abuse scandal. The deal came after more than five years of negotiations and is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal emerged in Boston in 2002.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas has said Barmasse should have never been allowed to minister here. Barmasse led youth groups at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Sierra Vista and at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church on the Northwest Side after he'd been accused of child molestation in Los Angeles.
Barmasse's name is on a list of 34 priests, deacons and other church personnel who have served in the local diocese since the 1950s and who have what the diocese deems "credible" accusations of sexual abuse against them.
The five men each already received $436,776 in settlement money from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, bringing their total per person settlement to nearly $2 million, minus lawyers' fees of 30 to 40 percent.
The Tucson money was paid as part of a settlement pool created after the local diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004.
The men say Barmasse was a young priest who liked to be called "Rev. Kev" when he led their youth groups, befriending them with personal notes and gifts and taking them on trips in his van. They say he also held private prayer sessions with them, which eventually led to the sexual abuse.
"The most offensive thing about this is that the Los Angeles Diocese dumped Barmasse in a missionary diocese, which is Tucson — that's what the church has a history of doing," said California attorney John C. Manly, who represented the local Barmasse victims along with Tucson lawyer Lynne M. Cadigan. The attorneys on Monday confirmed the settlement amounts for the local victims.
Manly said his clients would still like to see Barmasse criminally prosecuted for what he did.
Kicanas wrote in a letter to parishioners in 2003 that the Tucson diocese accepted Barmasse for ministry with the understanding that he would get treatment related to an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Documents show Barmasse got treatment, and the professional who treated him believed he would be able to minister safely, yet urged caution. Kicanas, who became bishop of Tucson in 2003, said Barmasse should not have been allowed to minister in Tucson or anywhere else, and that such an arrangement would not be allowed today.
Barmasse was ordained a priest for the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1982 after graduating from St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Calif. His assignments in the Diocese of Tucson were at St. Andrew the Apostle in Sierra Vista from 1983 to 1986, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on the Northwest Side between 1986 and 1988 and at Blessed Sacrament in Mammoth from 1988 to 1991.
Barmasse left the local diocese in 1991. He remained a priest of the Los Angeles Archdiocese during his time here. He was removed from ministry in 1992.
The deal settles all 508 cases that remained against the archdiocese, which also paid $60 million in December to settle 45 cases that weren't covered by sexual-abuse insurance.
The archdiocese will pay $250 million, insurance carriers will pay a combined $227 million and several religious orders will chip in $60 million. The remaining $123 million will come from litigation with religious orders that chose not to participate in the deal, with the archdiocese guaranteeing resolution of those 80 to 100 cases within five years, said Michael Hennigan, attorney for the archdiocese.
The archdiocese is released from liability in those claims, said Tod Tamberg, church spokesman.
The settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion.
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