Los Angeles Archdiocese Pays $8 Million to Teen Girl Abused and Kidnapped by Coach

Ne York Times

April 16, 2019

By Liam Stack

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has paid $8 million to a teenager who was sexually abused and later kidnapped by a teacher at her Catholic high school in 2016, her lawyer said Tuesday. The case has drawn attention to the problem of sex abuse at Catholic institutions that is committed by church employees who are not clergy members.

Dave Ring, a lawyer for the victim, and advocates for abuse survivors said the settlement was believed to be the largest amount paid to a single victim by the archdiocese, which has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to abuse survivors in recent years.

“I think the archdiocese has tended to settle cases for larger amounts when priests are involved,” Mr. Ring said on Tuesday. “In this particular case, the fact that it is a lay person and a coach and an athletic director, I think they are starting to realize that even lay people who may not hold a super important position in the church can still wreak havoc on a young person’s life, just as much as a priest can.”

Adrian M. Alarcon, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, declined Tuesday to confirm the price of the settlement. But she said that a $660 million settlement reached in 2007 with 508 abuse victims included sizable awards to “certain individuals,” although the church did not decide how that money was distributed.

“The Archdiocese recognizes that there was serious harm done to the life of the victim-survivor,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We hope that the settlement will allow her to heal and move forward with her education and lifetime goals. The Archdiocese apologizes for the impact that this caused in her life.”

The victim has not been publicly identified. She was 15 years old when she was sexually abused by Ivan Barajas, the athletic director and health teacher at San Gabriel Mission High School in San Gabriel, Calif., a parish school owned and operated by the archdiocese, according to court documents in a lawsuit filed in 2017. He was also her volleyball coach.

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