Diocese Settles Sex-Abuse Case

By Rod Ohira
Honolulu Advertiser [Hawaii]
January 18, 2007

The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and an O'ahu man last night reached an out-of-court settlement of a sex-abuse lawsuit on the eve of the scheduled start of trial.

Plaintiff attorney David Gierlach said his client, Elton Killion, will get $375,000 from the church to settle the lawsuit, in which Killion contended that Andrew Mannetta, former pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in 'Aiea, engaged in unwanted sexual misconduct toward him from 1997 or 1998 until December 2001.

Killion, now 25 or 26, was a minor during part of that time.

Killion and the New York-based St. Mary Capuchin Order, which supervised Mannetta, reached an earlier out-of-court settlement, details of which are protected under a confidentiality agreement, Gierlach said.

William Bordner, who represented the diocese, said he would reserve comment on the settlement until today. The Rev. Marc Alexander, vicar general of the Honolulu diocese, could not be reached for comment last night.

The lawyers plan to file a motion today asking to have the lawsuit dismissed, Gierlach said.

"We're pleased that the church takes responsibility for the misconduct of one of its own and we hope this is a new day in the Roman Catholic church where sex-abusing priests are no longer tolerated by the institution," Gierlach said.

Gierlach said the settlement will allow Killion to move on with his life.

The lawsuit alleged that Mannetta engaged in misconduct toward Killion that included unwanted kissing, getting him drunk and sexually assaulting him. The complaint said Mannetta used his authority as a Roman Catholic priest to facilitate his conduct.

Mannetta came to O'ahu from Guam in 1993 and became pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in July 1994. In August 1997, he resigned as pastor to begin his own "preaching ministry," visiting various church parishes, a Catholic Diocese spokesman said earlier.

In October 2002, Mannetta was reassigned to a position in New York.

The Mannetta case was the latest legal settlement of a Hawai'i lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by Catholic clergy.

In November 2005, Eugene Saulibio settled a lawsuit that accused the Rev. Joseph Bukoski III of sexually assaulting Saulibio when he was 15 years old. Bukoski was accused of providing Saulibio drugs and alcohol and molesting him in the summer of 1976.

In June and July 2004, Catholic Church officials in Hawai'i reached settlements in lawsuits against Manuel Feliciano, a sacristan who pleaded guilty to molesting a boy at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Honolulu, and the Rev. Roberto de Otero, who was accused of molesting two boys in the rectory at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

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