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  Archdiocese Releases 13-Year Summary of Abuse Cases Alleging Priest Pedophilia

By Gretchen Keiser
Buletin
April 4, 2002

Atlanta-The archdiocese made public April 2 a summary of all claims of sexual abuse of adolescent boys made against priests assigned to the Archdiocese of Atlanta since 1989.

Claims were made against six priests, both diocesan priests and religious order priests assigned to serve in the archdiocese, according to the summary prepared by David Brown, attorney for the archdiocese. There were financial settlements in four of the six cases. This includes the two highly publicized cases against Father Anton Mowat and Father Stanley Idziak.

The summary was requested by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Archbishop John F. Donoghue "felt it was appropriate to make this disclosure," said Brown.

Father Mowat, a British priest who served at Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain, from late 1985 to October 1987, was indicted on 10 charges in DeKalb County and eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation involving four altar boys. He served 15 months in jail and was deported.

A settlement was paid in these cases in 1989.

A civil suit was filed in 1991 against Father Idziak and against the archdiocese, alleging abuse involving two boys between 1985-88. This was settled out of court by the archdiocese in 1992. The family declined to prosecute criminally. The archdiocese removed the priest from ministry as soon as the allegations were brought to them in 1988.

The summary also included these other claims made against the archdiocese: In August 1993 a claim was made on behalf of a minor boy, identified as BD, claiming to have been sexually molested by a religious order priest assigned to a parish in the archdiocese. The claim was made against the religious order and the archdiocese and a settlement agreement was reached which has a confidentiality provision. The priest was removed from any assignment by his religious order and will never be allowed to minister in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Brown said.

In July 1992 a claim was made by an adult male, about 35 years old, identified as JJ, who claimed that he had been sexually molested by a priest in 1974 while on a trip with other adolescent boys. A claim seeking $100,000 in actual and punitive damages was rejected on the basis that it was barred by the statute of limitations, Brown said. No funds were paid on the claim. He said the priest involved is a diocesan priest and that he will not ever be given a ministerial assignment.

In March 1994 a claim was made on behalf of a 46-year-old man, identified as GK, who alleged that he had been sexually molested in the 1960s by a diocesan priest. At the time of the 1994 allegation, the priest was terminally ill and died shortly thereafter. This was the first claim that had been made against that priest, Brown said. It was also made utilizing therapy or counseling that attempts to recall suppressed memories of abuse from many years earlier. The claimant also used the same attorney who represented a claim by another individual against Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, which was later established to be bogus.

Because the priest was near death, he could not be interviewed, Brown said. "It was a highly questionable claim."

However, he said the decision was made, with the concurrence of the insurance company, to make a modest payment to GK and settle the claim.

A claim was made in July 2001 by an adult male, identified as CG, who claims that he was sexually molested by a priest of the archdiocese during the 1960s. The priest is deceased. The archdiocese believes that the claim is barred by the statute of limitations, Brown said.

Finally, a claim was made by an Atlanta man, stating that he had been sexually abused by a priest in the Rochester, N.Y., area in approximately 1972, Brown said. The allegation was not made against any priest of the archdiocese and the lawsuits filed in Fulton County have been dismissed.

The summary covers the period from 1989 forward as that is the time in which Brown has been representing the Archdiocese of Atlanta with respect to "all such claims."

Archbishop Donoghue became the archbishop of Atlanta in 1993.

According to Brown, the largest settlement payments were made in the cases involving Father Mowat in 1989 and Father Idziak in 1992. While he declined to disclose the individual settlement amounts because of confidentiality provisions, he said that the majority of the settlement funds in the Mowat cases came from the insurance company that provided coverage for the archdiocese at that time.

Because the insurance carriers had denied coverage for the Idziak claims, the archdiocese initially had to go out of pocket for those settlement payments, he said. However, the archdiocese subsequently sued its former insurance carriers and as a result of that litigation was able to recover substantially all of the payments it had previously made in the Idziak cases.

The two settlements that have been made since that time, referring to the claims of BD and GK, "have been relatively modest," he said, and the majority of the payments have been made by the insurance carrier for the Archdiocese of Atlanta or by the religious order in the claim of BD.

"Based on a review of all of these cases, I believe that the total amount of archdiocesan funds that have been paid out to settle these claims between 1989 and the present is $31,250," Brown said.

 
 

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