Sides Reach Settlement Involving Ex-Priest
Court still needs to OK decision
By Jim McBride
September 6, 2003
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown, Pa., and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Amarillo have reached a $275,000 settlement over allegations of sexual misconduct by a former priest against a Briscoe County youth.
According to information from both dioceses, an out-of-court settlement was reached this week with a minor who alleged he was abused by the late Rev. Edward R. Graff in June 2002 in Texas.
In a letter to his diocese, Bishop Edward P. Cullen said the Pennsylvania diocese's insurance carrier will pay $200,000 of the settlement and the diocese will pay $75,000 from a self-insurance program.
No lawsuit has been filed in the matter.
In a statement Friday, Bishop John W. Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo said the settlement will be subject to court approval.
"We believe the settlement was made in the best interest of the alleged victim and the dioceses involved," Yanta said in a statement. "The Diocese of Amarillo regrets that a minor was the victim of sexual misconduct by a priest working in our diocese. We continue to do everything that we can to provide a safe environment for the protection of our children and minors."
Graff retired from the Allentown diocese in 1992, but he continued his ministry with Our Lady of Loreto in Silverton, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Turkey and St. Juan Diego Center in Quitaque.
Graff, who retired from the Diocese of Amarillo in June 2002, was arrested Oct. 4 and charged with sexual assault of a child after allegations of sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy surfaced while Graff served as a priest in Silverton, Quitaque and Turkey.
Graff, 73, died in a Lubbock hospital in November after he fell in a Swisher County Jail shower and broke his hip.
Yanta said the Amarillo diocese's policy is to offer counseling and pastoral assistance to any family that has been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy.
The diocese has a hotline at the Diocesan Pastoral Center at (806) 383-4159. Yanta encouraged anyone who may have been victimized by Graff to contact him or Monsignor Harold Waldow at (806) 383-2243.
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