Catholic Diocese to Offer Settlements to Sexual Abuse Victims Who Won’t Sue
February 18, 2020
|Bishop Barry Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond presides over a Mass of Atonement, held at St. Stephen, Martyr Roman Catholic Church in Chesapeake, for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy on Thursday, October 11, 2018. (Steve Earley)|
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond says it will offer monetary settlements to sexual abuse victims if they give up the right to sue.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the diocese announced the offer on Monday.
Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout said in a news release that the offer is “the best course for our diocese to reach a just reconciliation with our victim survivors.”
In February 2019, the diocese released a list of 42 clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse against them, according to Virginia Gazette archives. None of the named clergy were listed as active members. Thirteen were dead. Most were classified as suspended or removed; five were “laicized,” meaning they were removed from ministry.
Previous news reports and information on the diocese website show at least seven have ties to Hampton Roads. Three had ties to Williamsburg.
Joseph Thang Xuan Pham served at St. Bede between 1972 and 1974 as an associate pastor. He was ordained in 1985 and suspended from the church in 2011. The Archdiocese of New Orleans confirmed Pham has since died.
Martin Brady was a reverend assigned to St. Bede on an as-needed-basis. Brady was ordained in 1956 and by 1972 he was removed from the clergy. He died in 2003. In 2016 his name resurfaced in a grand jury indictment as one of several predator priests.
William Reinecke, a Newport News native, had served since 1979 until his death as a vicar general and chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. He had a brother who lived in Williamsburg and upon his death was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery after a Mass at St. Bede.
The diocese said it does not know how much money will be needed for such settlements. But it said it will consider using its self-insurance program, investments and loans.
Victims who want to participate must initiate a claim by April 3 and file the claim by May 15. A Richmond-based settlement administration firm will evaluate claims and determine settlement amounts.
Settlements will be determined by various factors, including the nature of and the number of instances of abuse.
Catholic dioceses across the country have paid out more than $540 million in settlements from 2014 to 2018, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 annual report on the response to the child sex abuse crisis.
Virginia Gazette archives were used in this report.