Diocese Details Sources for $3M
Church Officials Say Settlement of Abuse Suit Won't Hurt Parishes, Schools

By Mark Guydish
November 21, 2007

SCRANTON The Diocese of Scranton has released more details on how it will pay the $3 million settlement of a lawsuit that had accused diocese officials of ignoring signs that former priest Albert Liberatore was sexually abusing a minor.

In a written statement circulated in weekly church bulletins, the diocese repeated its "deep regret and sincerest apology to the victim and his family members who were so grievously harmed," and strengthened its contention that no money from parishes would be used in the settlement.

Specifically, the statement said the settlement would use: no parish assessments paid to the diocese; no Diocesan Annual Appeal funds; assessments for Catholic education; no parish funds on deposit with the diocese and no proceeds from the sale of parish or diocesan properties.

"This settlement will be paid from the diocesan self-insurance fund and insurance carriers," the statement said, noting the diocese has run a self-insurance program for 33 years "whereby a deductible is paid for workers' compensation, property and liability coverage, which includes a limited amount for sexual misconduct."

The diocese has built up a reserve "dedicated to the payment of insurance claims."

The statement notes the diocese "must pay the first $250,000 for any liability claim," and that "in this particular case, the diocese will recover $750,000 from the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, one of the insurance carriers.

"It is also the position of the diocese that another $2 million will be recovered from additional carriers," the statement says. "Even if the entire $2 million is not recovered from these carriers, the funds used to satisfy the balance of this settlement will come from the diocesan insurance fund reserves."

That money, the statement concludes, "could never be used for other purposes such as lowering parish assessments, funding Catholic education, or maintaining parish properties."

Liberatore was accused of abusing a minor from 1999 to 2002, starting when the victim was 14 years old. He pleaded guilty in 2005 in Luzerne County Court to sexually abusing the boy and was sentenced to five years probation, but a civil suit was filed contending the diocese ignored clear signs of Liberatore's behavior.

After several days of testimony in the trial, the diocese settled the case for $3 million, issuing a brief statement of apology that promised none of the settlement would come from parish funds. That statement didn't provide details as to where the money would come from.



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