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  Men Settle Suits against Ex-Priest for $ 13 Million

Associated Press [Albuquerque NM]
November 30, 1993

Seventeen men who accused a former Roman Catholic priest of sexually abusing them as children have agreed on a $ 13 million settlement, attorneys said.

More than 30 plaintiffs have sued the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, claiming they were sexually abused by priests as children. About 12 priests have been named.

The settlement involves Jason Sigler, who left the priesthood in 1982 after being charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor. Sigler pleaded guilty in 1983 in exchange for a deferred sentence.

According to the agreement, Sigler will make a videotaped statement within five days, testifying about how much the archdiocese and the Servants of the Paraclete treatment center in Jemez Springs knew about his sexual problems and when they knew it.

Bruce Pasternack, an Albuquerque attorney representing the accusers, said the damages will be collected from eight insurance companies.

Pasternack said Sigler has filed claims against eight insurance companies representing priests who worked for the archdiocese and agreed to assign his rights to those claims to the plaintiffs. He said the insurance companies breached their duty to provide Sigler with a defense against lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.

The archdiocese sued several insurance companies in August, contending they wrongly refused to pay claims stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct by priests.

Albuquerque attorney Ron Koch, who represents Sigler, predicted the settlement would "facilitate a resolution of all the other cases."

The 17 plaintiffs will continue their six civil lawsuits in state court against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and the Servants of the Paraclete.

Sigler, 55, met with 16 of his accusers in Pasternack's office Monday to apologize for his actions.

After the private meeting, the 16 men held a news conference.

"I wanted to say a lot to him, but I didn't," said accuser Timothy D. Martinez, 30. "I couldn't believe he came forward, but I'm glad he did and showed his guilt."

Another accuser, Steve Clingan, said Sigler "kept his eyes down" during his apology. Clingan, 26, said any money received in the settlement wouldn't offset the bouts with alcoholism, violence and depression he had suffered.

 
 

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