Diocese to Pay $2.1m in Sex Suit
Brothers Say Pedophile Priest Abused Them Thousands of Times
By Chris T. Nguyen
Downloaded July 1, 2003
Two San Bernardino County brothers molested by the Rev. Edward Lawrence Ball about 20 years ago will receive $4.2 million from the Diocese of San Bernardino and an Illinois religious order in one of the nation's largest settlements against a Catholic priest.
The settlement, announced Monday, ends a six-year civil lawsuit in which the brothers, identified as David T. and Troy T., claim they were sexually abused thousands of times when they were altar boys at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in San Bernardino. In 1999, Ball pleaded no contest to criminal charges related to the assaults.
"They've been through a lot. It was a horrible experience,' the brothers' attorney, William Light of Riverside, said on Monday. "As far as the litigation, it was hard for them but they wouldn't trade it for the world. And they know it sends a message to victims of molestation ... that there are people who will fight for them.'
"It seems the only way to make people stop is to make them pay for it,' Light added. "When it actually costs them something, then they start caring.'
The tentative agreement, which will be finalized next week, requires the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Aurora, Ill., each to pay $2.1 million. Sacred Heart is the religious order that ordained Ball, now in his mid-60s.
Diocese Spokesman the Rev. Howard Lincoln said the money will be paid by the diocese's insurance carrier, Catholic Mutual.
Asked if the diocese knew about the allegations against Ball and if it accepts responsibility for his actions, Lincoln said, "We had no notice or knowledge whatsoever of these allegations.'
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart had no clue of Ball's conduct, its attorney, Raymond Dolen of San Bernardino, said.
"Father Ball was trying to hide his activities, hide them from the order, hide them from everybody,' Dolen said Monday.
He said the order's priests feel betrayed.
"They were shocked because he seemed to have good character,' Dolen said. "They felt betrayed. He betrayed a lot of people ... the people who trusted and worked with him.'
Ball, ordained by Sacred Heart in 1966, is an admitted pedophile with a criminal history of molesting young boys. The abuse took place during the tenure of former Bishop Philip Straling, now bishop of the Diocese of Reno.
In 1992, Ball pleaded guilty to molesting three boys in the 1970s, two of whom were altar boys at Our Lady of Fatima Church in San Bernardino, where he was priest. After serving nine months in county jail, Ball returned to Aurora, Ill., to stay with his religious order.
In 1997, David T. and Troy T. sued Ball for sexual abuse they experienced from about 1979 to 1986 when they were altar boys at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in San Bernardino. David T. was 10 then, and Troy was 7. They are now in their early 30s.
In 1999, the District Attorney's Office charged Ball with 31 felony counts, including forcible lewd acts upon a child, attempted oral copulation and attempted sodomy involving the two brothers. Ball pleaded no contest and is serving a three-year prison term.
According to Light, the brothers were sexually molested by Ball thousands of times. Ball took the brothers with him on vacations to numerous states, Light said.
"Nobody did or said anything about it,' Light said.
He said the brothers, both of whom are now married and have children, bottled up the experience for so long because of shame. Neither brother, he said, knew the other was being molested because Ball abused them separately.
The brothers' civil lawsuit is also against Ball, who has not settled his portion. Light said he's going to "proceed against him' but doubts whether a financial settlement would be reached.
"It's not right for him to walk away from this without having (at least) a judgment against him,' Light said.
The diocese's portion of the $4.2 million settlement $2.1 million is the largest it's paid in any molestation case involving priests. Since 1978, the diocese has paid out about $675,000, Lincoln said.
The $4.2 million settlement is one of the nation's largest. In August 2001, the Orange County Diocese and Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled with a victim of sexual abuse, Ryan DiMaria, for $5.2 million.
"When a diocese hands over a multimillion dollar check, that diocese is acknowledging, 'We know about that pedophile priest,' and we're asking for accountability,' Irvine attorney Katharine Freberg, who represented DiMaria, said on Monday.
"That is important. Victims want accountability. It's not about the money. The money doesn't magically heal the victim. But it is more of the acknowledgment by the church that it did not protect that child.'
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