Archdiocese Will Pay $300,000 to Settle Last of Sex-Abuse Suits

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
April 21, 2006

The Archdiocese of Louisville agreed this week to pay $300,000 to settle the last pending lawsuit over sexual abuse by a former priest.

The archdiocese settled with plaintiff Kyle Burden, a Louisville lawyer, who said in a suit filed nearly four years ago that he was sexually abused by Daniel C. Clark.

Burden filed the lawsuit during a wave of litigation in 2002 and 2003 in which plaintiffs alleged the archdiocese covered up the sexual abuse of children by dozens of priests and other church workers.

Burden was the only eligible plaintiff to opt out of a $25.7 million class-action settlement between the archdiocese and 243 other plaintiffs.

"I feel good," Burden said of the settlement. "I knew, being a lawyer, that it was the right thing to opt out of the class-action settlement."

Burden, whose lawsuit sought punitive damages from the archdiocese, said he feels the settlement amount reflected that goal.

He said he believed a jury trial could have resulted in an even larger payout but that it was difficult to predict what might have happened.

"In the end, I knew I wanted to show what the archdiocese did was wrong," he said. "Clearly a $300,000 settlement shows they acknowledge something there."

In a statement, archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said: "We're pleased this negotiated settlement has brought closure for Mr. Burden and the archdiocese, and we pledge to continue our efforts at prevention of and education about childhood sexual abuse."

Burden's settlement is more than three times the median payment -- just over $85,000 -- that the class-action plaintiffs received. The highest individual payout in that case was $218,801.

Burden, 36, said in his lawsuit that he was sexually abused by Clark when Burden attended St. Rita School. Burden said Clark fondled him in a basement while holding an ice pack to the boy's nose, which had been injured in a softball game.

Clark is serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two other boys. He also was convicted of abuse in the late 1980s. Twenty plaintiffs accused Clark of abuse in the recent round of lawsuits against the archdiocese, and the Vatican removed him from the priesthood in 2004.

Burden, who represented himself along with lawyer Wallace Rogers, was the only plaintiff to take testimony from Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly in a deposition. Kelly testified he was told in 1982 that Clark was getting "too close" to boys, but Kelly said it wasn't clear to him until later years that the involvement was sexual.

Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.