Priest-Sex Lawsuit Settled by Diocese

By Barbara Ferry
Arizona Republic
August 5, 1994

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix averted a potentially embarrassing trial Thursday, settling out of court with a Scottsdale couple whose son was molested by a priest eight years ago.

The settlement was announced four days before lawyers were expected to offer opening statements in the trial.

The boy's parents filed suit in 1990, claiming that the diocese ignored reports of sexual misconduct by the Rev. George Bredemann, who was associate pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Church in south Phoenix when the molestation took place.

The boy was molested in 1986 at Bredemann's cabin near Wickenburg, which the priest used for informal youth retreats. The boy later molested other children and was sent to a juvenile-detention facility.

A statement issued Thursday by lawyers for both sides did not disclose how much money the family was awarded. The family had sought unspecified damages.

"In reaching this resolution, each side has been motivated by a spirit of reconciliation and healing," the announcement said.

But before Thursday's settlement, there wasn't much spirit of reconciliation

apparent. In the past four years, the legal fray has built up a case file nearly 3 feet high, and pretrial issues were challenged in the state Court of Appeals.

Diocese spokeswoman Marge Injasoulian declined to comment on the settlement.

The diocese never has gone to trial on a lawsuit involving molestation,

Injasoulian pointed out, but as late as last weekend, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien was telling Phoenix Catholics that the church had no choice but to defend itself

in court because "excessive demands" by the plaintiffs could hobble the church's social programs.

Members of the molested boy's family refused to comment Thursday.

In 1989, Bredemann pleaded guilty to attempted child molestation of the Scottsdale boy and two brothers. He was sentenced to one year in jail and lifetime probation.

In 1990, Bredemann was arrested while trying to flee the country and subsequently sentenced to 45 years in an Arizona prison. He was defrocked that same year, but he appealed the action. His current status with the church could not be determined.

A lawsuit filed by the parents of two brothers molested by Bredemann was settled out of court in 1991.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.