Diocese Paid Family of Deacon after Firing

Associated Press, carried in Cincinnati Enquirer
April 1, 2007

Cleveland — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland paid $27,200 over nearly three years to the wife and children of a former deacon accused of fondling girls after he was forbidden from working for the diocese, court records show, a revelation that angers his accusers.

Stephen Sozio, an attorney for the diocese, called the $800 monthly payments to Renee Bals, wife of Jerry Bals, "a stipend to a woman with eight children who was, through no fault of her own, in dire financial straits."

Court records also show that Jerry Bals was still living in the home in suburban Eastlake when the payments were made from June 2000 to April 2003.

"It's another example of how the church is taking care of the clergy but not taking care of the people," said Mary Brigid, who accused Bals of groping her over several occasions from 1972 through 1974. Six women sued the diocese in 1994, saying Bals abused them.

He had been an ordained deacon and was a guidance counselor and librarian.

The suit was resolved with a confidential settlement. Criminal charges filed in 1993 were dropped in exchange for him giving up his teaching credentials.


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