Masters Oversee Diocese Fund

By Jim Hannah
Cincinnati Enquirer
February 16, 2006

BURLINGTON - A longtime Northern Kentucky resident and Cincinnati business leader will play a leading role in administering the $85 million fund for people abused by employees of the Diocese of Covington.

William Burleigh, chairman of the board of the E.W. Scripps Co., will be one of two special masters in charge of distributing the money. He will share the duties with Thomas D. Lambros, a retired federal judge living in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Special Judge John Potter of Louisville, who is presiding over the sex-abuse case in Boone Circuit Court, appointed the pair on Tuesday to oversee the fund.

"I hope that we can bring some healing," said the 70-year-old Burleigh. "My role is to do my part to try to bring equity and fairness to the final disposition of this case."

The two will decide claims based on the severity and type of abuse for the approximately 361 claims. Settlements will range from $5,000 to $450,000.

There is a special clause in the agreement that allows people who suffered the most severe abuse to ask for up to an additional $550,000 - meaning the most any one person could receive is $1 million. Both the diocese and plaintiffs' attorneys must agree with the administrator for additional money to be awarded.

Burleigh, a parishioner of All Saints Church in Walton, worked behind the scenes last year to help the diocese reach an out-of-court settlement in the sex-abuse case.

A team of attorneys, led by Stan Chesley of Cincinnati, represented the victims in claims spanning 50 years and several Kentucky counties.

Burleigh was also one of the initial members of the National Review Board, a 13-member panel created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops four years ago to guide the church's response to allegations of widespread priest sexual abuse.

The diocese also asked Burleigh last year to help investigate claims that one of its priests had improper sexual contact with a boy in 1979. That investigation concluded the charges were unfounded.

Lambros could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Burleigh said Lambros was "a wonderful, creative judge who has a lot of experience in class-action cases."

Burleigh said Lambros created a settlement mechanism that is used throughout the federal judiciary.


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