Archdiocese of Chicago Arrives at $12.6 Million
Sexual Abuse Settlement for Victims
Catholic News Agency
August 15, 2008
[Note from BishopAccountability.org: This article contains references
to the deposition
of Cardinal Francis E. George. Below we have added links to the deposition
and its exhibits.]
Chicago, Aug 15, 2008 / 12:00 am (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Chicago has
reached a settlement totaling $12,675,000 with 16 victims of clerical
sexual abuse. Speaking about the settlement, Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal
Cardinal George said he has to "accept the blame" for the abuse
which occurred during his tenure.
Fourteen of the cases relate to abuse by ten different priests in incidents
occurring between 1962 and 1994. Two relate to Daniel J. McCormack, who
in 2007 pled guilty to having abused five children. With the new settlement,
the archdiocese has settled four of the five cases to which McCormack
"My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their
families begin to heal and move forward," said Cardinal George in
an archdiocesan press statement. "I apologize again today to the
survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community. We must
continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children
in our care."
"In the sense I'm responsible for this archdiocese, I have to accept
the blame," George said at a Tuesday press conference, according
to the Chicago Tribune.
A press release from the Archdiocese of Chicago reported that the settlements
were reached through a "comprehensive mediation process" designed
by the archdiocese and attorneys for the victims. [See the press
release.] In the mediation, documents and information were shared,
information was publicly disclosed, and a special arbitrator was used
to resolve disputes.
Thomas Gibbons, an attorney and dean of the School of Continuing Studies,
Northwestern University, served as the mediator and Stuart Nudelman, a
retired judge, was the special arbitrator.
Gibbons said the mediation set a standard for "best practices"
and can serve as a model for the future.
During the mediation in January, Cardinal George gave an eight-hour deposition
whose text has been posted to the Archdiocese of Chicago's web site. [See
In the deposition the cardinal said police, prosecutors, and child welfare
officials share some blame for McCormack going free.
The deposition also examined the case of priest Joseph Bennett, showing
that the cardinal and church officials had received [see Deposition
p. 169] four detailed allegations of sexual abuse against him dating
back to 2002 [actually three in 2002 (see Exhibit
54) and two more in 2003 (see Exhibits 211,
Despite two removal recommendations from the archdiocese's review board
(see Exhibits 72
he was not removed from Holy Ghost Parish until 2006, the Chicago Tribune
Cardinal George said the delay was due to the priest's lack of representation
by a canon lawyer. [see Deposition
Instead of being removed, Bennett was supervised by Father Leonard Dubi,
who was apparently a close friend. By the time of Bennett's removal, he
faced more than a dozen allegations of abuse but the archdiocese did not
notify parishioners or the public.
In his deposition, Cardinal George said George Rassass [see Deposition
p. 117], who was then the vicar general but is now auxiliary bishop,
along with Father Grace [see Deposition
p. 123] withheld information about McCormack before his promotion
to a supervisory role soon after his arrest. Reportedly these actions
resulted in a letter of reprimand being placed in their file. [See Deposition
Regarding the case of Norbert Mayday, a priest who is now in a mental
institution, Cardinal George said most of the victims he spoke to were
most concerned that Mayday would never function as a priest again, "not
whether he was in prison or not." [See Deposition
According to the Chicago Tribune, Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the victims
in Chicago and other dioceses, asked Cardinal George whether he is more
concerned about the rights of accused priests than protecting children.
"No," the cardinal answered. "The children at risk were,
I thought, protected and they were in this case by the monitoring and
the restrictions. I was interested in fairness, the same values that permeate
any legal system." [See Deposition
Therese Albrecht, one of Bennett's accusers, said she felt ignored when
she came forward in 2004 and now feels "indescribable anger and pain."
"What price can you put on an 8-year-old's virginity?" she said,
according to the Chicago Tribune. "He didn't call me up. I never
got an apology."
Anderson, an attorney for some of the victims, said the mediation was
a "significant step," an archdiocesan press statement reports.
"The mediation process with the Archdiocese of Chicago was particularly
effective because of the courage of the survivors and the personal involvement
of Cardinal George," said Anderson. "Cardinal George was actively
involved in this process. He has demonstrated his commitment to healing
these survivors. The release of his deposition today is a significant
step toward openness and transparency and helps the survivors and the
church community in healing and recovery."
At least 250 people have been sexually abused by clergy in the Archdiocese
of Chicago. The archdiocese's abuse settlements at present total over