Tentative Deal Reached on Abuse Claims against Late Jesuit Priest

By Gillian Flaccus
Fresno Bee [California]
May 17, 2007

An order of Roman Catholic priests reached a tentative $14 million settlement Thursday with nine men and women who allege they were abused by a Jesuit priest over a 16-year span.

The Rev. Alfred Naucke, a spokesman for the Jesuits of the California Province, said the deal was reached Thursday morning after several days of closed-door talks mediated by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy.

Naucke said he did not know the amount of the deal, but a person close to the negotiations told The Associated Press it was $14.4 million - about $1.6 million per person. The source requested anonymity because the deal hasn't been completed.

The settlement still must be signed by all parties, Naucke said.

"I don't know that it's all nailed down with signatures on the bottom line, but it's agreed to in substance at least," he said.

The payout would come from both the order and its insurers with no money from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Naucke said.

The cases involve Mark Falvey, a Jesuit priest accused of abusing 10 children during a 16-year span, beginning in 1959. Falvey died in 1975.

Falvey was ordained in California. He spent several years in China, but returned to Los Angeles in 1959 and spent 15 years at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood.

Falvey is accused of abusing children younger than 12 and, in some cases, raping them, while he was at the Hollywood church.

Ray Boucher, an attorney for several of the plaintiffs, said the agreement would be final in several weeks. Three other cases, which were not covered by the order's insurance, were settled three weeks ago, Boucher said, and two claims remained unresolved.

An attorney for the Jesuits, Paul Gaspari, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The agreement is the latest in a series of settlements involving Roman Catholic religious orders in California.

Last October, the Carmelites agreed to pay $10 million to seven people and in March 2006 Franciscan friars agreed to pay more than $28 million to about two dozen people who claimed they were sexually abused at a now-defunct Santa Barbara seminary and mission.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles faces more than 500 sexual abuse lawsuits that have been pending for four years. The first of those civil cases goes to court June 11.


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