|5 Molestation Victims May Get $1 Million Each
February 11, 2008
Five men who say they were sexually abused as minors by a former Yuma priest stand to receive payments toward a total $1 million each under a settlement with the Tucson Diocese.
They were among 26 victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the diocese who will share $800,000 of the $1 million released recently by a judge.
The $1 million comes from a $5 million "future claims" fund in connection with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Of that $1 million payout, $800,000 will go to people whose claims of abuse were deemed valid in the bankruptcy case, said diocese bankruptcy attorney Susan G. Boswell.
The other $200,000 will go to the diocese to pay for programs that support sexual abuse prevention, Boswell said.
The payout means an additional $54,000 each to the five men in "tier four" of the victims category in the reorganization, the category the bankruptcy court deemed most serious.
The five said that between the late 1980s and 2002, they were abused by the Rev. Juan Guillen of Immaculate Conception Church in Yuma. The extra $54,000 will bring their total settlement amount to $927,639 apiece, minus legal fees.
The money was set aside for future claims by people claiming they were sexually abused as children by clergy. The money has remained largely untapped, and the court is releasing some of it to existing victims.
Those five men, who today range in age from 19 to 30, are eventually expected to receive total payments of more than $1 million each.
"Having money in the bank lowers stress and increases their options and adds security," said attorney Lynne M. Cadigan, who represented a majority of the 56 people who received payouts in the bankruptcy reorganization, among them all of the Yuma claims.
"For them to get $1 million each is comparable with the rest of the settlements around the country, and we are in a state with a strict statute and in a relatively poor diocese," she said.
The Tucson Diocese has been praised by Cadigan and others involved with the case for emerging from bankruptcy and settling with the victims within a year of filing.
Guillen pleaded guilty to attempted child molesting in 2003 and is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
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