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  Diocese Defends Itself against Allegations in Sex Probe

Associated Press
July 17, 1987

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has denied paying hush money to keep two youths from speaking out after they were reportedly molested by priests.

"If there has been a settlement in a case, it was initiated by legal counsel of the complaining party," said a statement authorized by the diocese legal office Thursday.

"The diocese has a concern for the pastoral and psychological well-being of the victim and the victim's family," the statement said. "Unfortunately, at times this has been misconstrued as an attempt to cover up or buy off the victim."

The statement was prepared in response to a report published Sunday in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer about three Cleveland-area priests who molested or sexually assaulted youths.

The newspaper reported that the diocese agreed to pay a couple $10,000 and their son $40,000 in return for their silence after their son was sexually assaulted in 1981 by the Rev. F. James Mulica of the Chapel of the Divine Word in Kirtland. The newspaper said all but $20,000 in payments due to the boy had already been made.

The Plain Dealer also said the diocese offered a condominium, a van and a job to the mother of a youth who was molested by the Rev.

Joseph Romansky while he was pastor at Holy Family Church in Cleveland. In addition, the newspaper said the Rev. Allen F.

Bruening of Ascension Church in Cleveland was involved in the molesting of two brothers 20 years apart and wasn't transferred until the parents threatened legal action.

The diocesan statement said: "At no time has anyone been asked to give up their legal rights. The diocese recommends and urges counseling. The diocese tries to work pastorally with each family within the framework of their needs."

The diocese said that it "has acted and continues to act in compliance with Ohio law in reporting instances (of child abuse) which warrant reporting."

Two of the three priests in question were sent to treatment facilities within days of investigations of their actions, the diocese said. The third priest received "immediate psychological assessment and continuing care," the statement said.

The only specific mention of the three cases by the diocese was to acknowledge that an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the Mulica case and that a second lawsuit has been filed against Romansky and the diocese. The diocese was excused from the initial suit in the Romansky case, it said.

"The reason for not responding to specific questions is not that we are unwilling to be forthcoming but because we must respect the confidentiality required by law," said the Rev. John Wright, diocesan financial and legal secretary. "Confidentiality doesn't mean shielding."

 
 

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