Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Settles Sexual-Abuse Claims

March 5, 2009

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese agreed Wednesday to pay $775,000 to five people who accused the late Arlington priest James Reilly of sexual abuse, according to a diocese news release.

One of the claimants also accused priests James Hanlon and Gerard Scholl, both dead, of abuse, the release stated.

In June, Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merritt said she was representing five men who said that Reilly had sexually abused them when they were young. Merritt could not be reached for comment.

Reilly was pastor of St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Arlington from 1967 to 1987.

"Bishop Kevin Vann, in addressing the individuals, said he is deeply sorry for any sexual abuse the victims may have endured and suffered by Reilly, Hanlon and Scholl. He further stated that such actions are a sin and a crime. The Bishop told victims that he prays that healing and reconciliation can be achieved in their lives," the news release stated.

In June, the diocese agreed to pay a settlement to a Tarrant County man who said he was abused by Reilly in the 1970s.

In 2006, the diocese settled with 11 other men who said they were abused by Reilly when they were altar boys. Some said they were as young as 8 when the abuse occurred.

Reilly also was an instructor at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. He died in 1999 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

In the 2006 settlement, the diocese paid at least $1 million to the men. In the 2008 case, the settlement was in "the five-figure range," according to the claimant.

The diocese's statement said that most of the settlement announced Wednesday is covered by insurance.


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