Diocese to Pay $500,000

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times [St. Cloud MN]
September 25, 2003

The Diocese of St. Cloud will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who accused a former priest of sexually abusing her.

The woman accused Donald Rieder of abusing her in the early 1990s while she was a parishioner at St. John Cantius Church in St. Cloud.

Rieder in April pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges resulting from the abuse. He received a 34-month stayed sentence on the condition that he serve a year in jail. His priestly duties were removed.

The settlement comes shortly after the victim's attorney sought to add punitive damages to her claim. In that motion, she accused the diocese of knowing about Rieder's abuse for years and not protecting parishioners from him.

Attorney Jeff Anderson said the punitive damages motion likely hastened the settlement. He remains critical of the diocese, though.

"This is the first chink in the armor of the diocese," Anderson said. "It's the first time they've done anything to help in the healing of a victim."

The diocese had no comment on the settlement, spokesman Steve Gottwalt said.

There were few settlement terms of note other than the payment, Anderson said. It was more important for the victim to get this lawsuit settled and move on with her life, he said.

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