Diocese to Pay East Valley Man $100K

By Gary Grado
East Valley Tribune [Phoenix AZ]
July 21, 2005

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a Chandler man who claimed a priest molested him in 1978.

Tucson attorney Kim Williamson, who represents Mark Kennedy, said there will be no admission of wrongdoing by the diocese, which is typical in lawsuit settlements.

The diocese has been paying for Kennedy's counseling for the past two years and agreed to pay for another two years or $10,000, whichever comes first, Williamson said.

"He's happy with the result and happy that he can feel good about the diocese," Williamson said.

Diocese attorney Mike Haran said the settlement was for less than it would have cost to try the case, but that Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted is most concerned about healing and reconciliation.

The two sides just need to sign the agreement and file paperwork with the court, the attorneys said.

The settlement payment will come from diocese funds, but the diocese plans to file an insurance claim, Haran said.

Kennedy's suit is the second of at least 14 lawsuits involving sexual misconduct allegations against priests to be settled in recent months.

In the other suit, the victim of the Rev. Karl LeClaire, former pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Mesa, settled with the diocese in May for about $60,000, Haran said.

Kennedy, who was unavailable for comment, alleged in court documents that the Rev. Patrick Colleary molested him in 1978 at a family dinner and in classrooms of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tempe.

Kennedy, 37, claimed he repressed the memory of the abuse until a television news story about the diocese triggered it in 2002.

The lawsuit also alleged the diocese, former leader Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and Monsignor Michael O'Grady conspired to cover up known sexual propensities of Colleary and covered up for pedophile priests.

Colleary, whose last assignment was associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, is in Ireland and fighting extradition on another child molestation case.

He, LeClaire and six other priests were indicted after a yearlong investigation into sexual misconduct in the diocese.

Haran said five civil cases involving allegations from the days when the Phoenix parishes were part of the Tucson diocese have been all or partly resolved as part of that diocese's bankruptcy case.


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