Group of Childhood Sex Abuse Victims Inks $1.8m Settlement with Two New York Archdioceses
By Edgar Sandoval and Larry McShane
October 26, 2017
A half-dozen survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests reached a $1.8 million settlement with two New York archdioceses, their attorney announced Wednesday.
Lawyer Michael Reck, in revealing the payouts, also publicly identified a pair of Bronx priests for the first time as sexual predators: Rev. Herbert D’Argenio and Msgr. Casper Wolf.
“We see two men that the Archdiocese of New York knew were child sex abusers, and they did nothing to warn children,” said survivor Joelle Casteix, who was not part of the settlement.
“They did nothing to tell parents. And they did nothing to reach out to the survivors for years. (Timothy) Cardinal Dolan should be ashamed of this.”
Both Wolf and D’Argenio are dead, as was a third priest identified at the news conference. The other five assailants identified are no longer serving as priests.
D’Argenio, who worked at St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus in the Bronx from 1961-76, ran a group at his parish called “Herbert’s Boys” during his tenure.
Those involved in the settlement were five men and one woman.
|Survivor and advocate Joelle Casteix and Attorney Michael Reck announce a settlement for child sex abuse victims and the Archdiocese of New York and Diocese of Brooklyn at a Wednesday press conference. (JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
Spokespeople for both the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn said the settlements indicated the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for victims was working.
“Victims are coming forward,” said Carolyn Erstad of the Brooklyn diocese. “They are free to share their stories, including the names of their alleged abusers, while receiving financial compensation from the church.”
Archdiocesan spokesman Joe Zwilling agreed: “We have asked people to come forward and participate in the program, and the program does seem to be achieving its goal, thank God.”
Reck said public acknowledgment of the past abuse sent a message to other survivors of the shared, often-secret pain.
“It is very important that they know that they are not alone,” he told a Manhattan news conference. “They are not the only ones.”
The survivors, whose identities were not revealed, were abused in separate incidents, said Reck. They received settlements varying from $50,000 to $450,000 for cases of abuse that occurred across four decades: From the 1950s through the 1980s.
|Reck identified two Bronx priests as perpetrators. (JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
Reck also urged victims to come forward before the upcoming deadlines to register for a second phase of compensations — Nov. 1 for the Archdiocese of New York, Dec. 21 for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Dec. 31 for the Diocese of Rockville Center.
“That's a very fast approaching deadline for any survivor who wants to participate," he said.
This past May, Reck announced a similar $2 million settlement on behalf of seven men who were abused as children by priests.
Casteix said the settlements can help the victims heal.
“It is not a perfect plan,” she said. “However, for many survivors of sexual abuse, it is the only option for them to come forward," she said.
The also hopes state legislators extend the civil statute of limitations, giving survivors a chance to confront their attackers in court.
“It should not be up to church structures to regulate themselves,” said Casteix. “Should survivors be given a chance at the courtroom like everyone else? Yes, they should.”