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  Family, Archdiocese Settle out of Court

By Gretchen Keiser
Buletin
June 18, 1992

The archdiocese of Atlanta has reached an out-of-court settlement with a former Stone Mountain family who alleged that their sons had been sexually abused by a priest of the archdiocese.

The details of the settlement, including the amount, are confidential, according to David Brown, attorney for the archdiocese.

The suit, filed by [names redacted], alleged that Father Stanley Idziak abused their two sons, [name redacted] and [name redacted], during a time period between 1985 and 1988.

The allegations came to light in the wake of the publicity generated by the indictment of Father Anton Mow�t in 1988 for sexual abuse of children. Father Idziak, 57, was pastor of St. Michael�s parish in Gainesville when the allegations were brought to the archdiocese by the [name redacted] family. He was removed from that assignment and has been in a church treatment center in New Mexico since April 1988. According to the lawsuit, the [name redacted] family met Father Idziak during his assignment as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi parish in Stone Mountain, where he was serving from June 1981 to August 1985. He was assigned to St. Michael�s from August 1985 to 1988. He did not serve at Corpus Christi when Father Mow�t was assigned there.

The archdiocese informed the DeKalb County District Attorney�s Office of the allegations in 1988, but the [name redacted] family declined to prosecute the case. They filed a lawsuit in February 1991, seeking $3 million in damages from the archdiocese and Father Idziak.

At the time, the archdiocese maintained that it had acted immediately when informed of the allegations and that the allegations were the first to be made against Father Idziak. The archdiocese also stated that a thorough investigation had been made into the priest�s background when his request for a transfer to the Atlanta archdiocese was accepted in 1978, and that the investigation revealed no impropriety. Prior to that Father Idziak was a member of the Pallottine religious order in upstate New York.

An out-of-court settlement was accepted by the archdiocese, Brown said, in order to reach a compromise over �disputed claims,� and �to avoid the need for protracted and expensive litigation.� The disputed claim, he said was �whether or not the archdiocese was legally responsible for the alleged misconduct of Father Idziak� because he was serving as a parish priest.

Brown said the settlement was amicable and settles all claims made in the original lawsuit, including that against Father Idziak. The allegations have never been prosecuted in a criminal case.

An attorney for the [name redacted] family declined to comment.

The archdiocese is in discussion with United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company (USF&G), which provided liability coverage during part of the time period covered by the allegations, Brown said, and is �hopeful that the carrier will reimburse the archdiocese for the amount of the settlement.� Since the first allegation of sexual abuse involving a priest of the Atlanta archdiocese became public in 1988, the archdiocese has made known and implemented policies and procedures governing such allegations in order to respond immediately and to make guidelines uniform and explicit.

Among the elements in the written archdiocesan policy are that any allegation of abuse of a minor by a priest must be reported to the archbishop directly and a report is made to appropriate civil authorities. In the archbishop�s absence, the vicar general is to be notified. Any credible complaint results in the priest being removed from his ministry assignment immediately and placed in a supportive care setting pending full investigation.

 
 

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