Church 'Pleased' Abuse Case over

By Ken Kobayashi
Honolulu Advertiser [Hawaii]
January 19, 2007

A $350,000 out-of-court settlement with a man who claimed he was sexually abused by a priest enables the Catholic Church here to put the matter behind it and continue the church's mission in Hawai'i, Bishop Larry Silva of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu said yesterday.

The church agreed late Wednesday to pay Elton Killion to settle his lawsuit contending that Andrew Mannetta, former pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in 'Aiea, engaged in unwanted sexual misconduct from 1997 or 1998 until December 2000.

The settlement was reached on the eve of what was expected to be a two-week civil jury trial on the lawsuit against the church and Mannetta.

"We are pleased that an opportunity to resolve this matter presented itself," Silva said in a statement yesterday. "The legal process is long and painful. Drawing this dispute out in a protracted court battle would not be in the best interests of the plaintiff, the Church or Andy Mannetta.

"By the terms of the agreement, a disputed claim is resolved without admission of liability and without the hardships, disruptions and acrimony of trial."

The New York-based St. Mary Capuchin Order, which supervised Mannetta, was also sued, but was dropped from the case earlier after reaching a confidential settlement. Mannetta was dismissed from the case yesterday because he doesn't have assets, Killion's attorney, David Gierlach, said.

The lawsuit alleged that Mannetta engaged in misconduct that included unwanted kissing, getting Killion drunk and sexually assaulting him.

Killion, 25, a security guard, declined to comment yesterday, referring questions to Gierlach.

"He thinks that it's a fair settlement and he will use this money to try to get his life together," Gierlach said.

Gierlach said his client was 18 and 19 when he was subjected to the sexual misconduct. However, he had an IQ of 64, putting him in the bottom one percentile of the population, which rendered him unable to consent to the sex.

Gierlach said Mannetta's actions affected his client "very seriously and emotionally."

"It caused him a great deal of confusion," he said.

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