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  Hartford Archdiocese Reaches $22 Million Abuse Settlement

Associated Press
October 31, 2005

Hartford, Conn. — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford has agreed to pay $22 million to 43 people who say they were abused by priests, the archdiocese and a lawyer representing some of the victims said Monday.

The settlement was the result of talks mediated by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Garfinkel in Bridgeport, attorney Jason Tremont said.

"While I am grateful that the diocese has offered this compensation, I want to make it perfectly clear that no amount of money can replace what was taken from me at the hands of a child molester who wore a Roman collar and called himself 'Father,"' said James Hackett, one of the 43 victims, who said he was molested in 1976 when he was an altar boy and middle school student at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hamden.

The settlement came after two years of mediation and was in the best interest of everyone involved, said the Rev. John Gatzak, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

"The archbishop wants to begin the healing process for those whose lives have been seriously harmed by sexual abuse, and for the church itself," he said. "We must acknowledge and deal with what has been done with justice and compassion."

Tremont also represented some of the 40 people to whom the Bridgeport Diocese paid $21 million to settle abuse claims in 2003.

At the time, the payout was believed to be the third-biggest settlement by a U.S. diocese since the scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church broke in Boston in 2002.

The alleged abuse in the Hartford archdiocese dated as far back as the 1960s and involved 14 priests or former priests, at least four of whom are now dead, Tremont said.

Tremont said the settlement stemmed from five lawsuits and five claims his office filed against three priests because the statute of limitations was looming. Under Connecticut law, victims have until their 48th birthdays to bring claims in court.

Tremont said most of the alleged abuse occurred between 1968 and 1991, when John Francis Whealon was the Hartford archbishop. Tremont contends that in 1983, a group of parents complained to Whealon that a Torrington priest was abusing their children. They said they were threatened with legal action if they pursued the matter.

"By giving victims a voice, we can change the behavior of the church and finally force the archdiocese to acknowledge responsibility for the past," Tremont said in a written release.

The priests named in the settlement are: the Revs. Joseph Buckley, Stephen Crowley, Ivan Ferguson, Stephen Foley, John Grahm, Thomas Glynn, Felix Maguire, Daniel McSheffery, Edward Muha, Louis Paturzo, Raymond Paul, William Przybylo, Edward Reardon and Kenneth Shiner. Buckley died in 1975, Ferguson in 2002, Glynn in 1993 and Muha in 2002.

Tremont did not know the whereabouts of the other priests.

 
 

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