Diocese Sex Abuse Scandal Settlement May Bring Help to Victims

My Fox Kansas City

August 20, 2008

KANSAS CITY, MO. - A pending settlement in a Catholic Church sex abuse scandal could be the first of its kind in Missouri.

The settlement includes 47 persons who have sued the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. The Diocese is expected to finalize it by Thursday.

As part of the settlement, the Bishop will apologize to the victims who have filed lawsuits. Counseling will be made available to them, and the victims will no longer be called "alleged" victims.

Many of the people who took the Diocese to court said St. Elizabeth's Rectory is where a lot of the abuse went on. In fact, there is a group of victims and family members who have asked the Bishop to demolish the rectory.

David Biersmith wishes the memories could be wiped away as easily as a building. Among the 47 people who sued the Diocese was David Biersmith's son Christopher.

Christopher and another young relative said they were abused at the hands of Father Hugh Monahan. Monahan is one of 12 priests named in the lawsuits. What's most disturbing about the Biersmith's suit is that Monahan is Christoper's uncle.

"These kids struggle everyday with this day...They're my kids...It's not going to straighten out but they can try to move on with their lives and get better in both instances," said Biersmith.

The settlement won't erase the years of agony the boys have lived through. But, Biersmith hopes the counseling offered in the agreement will help.

Biersmith said even though he wasn't a direct victim, guilt and anger have affected his life as well.

"In the settlement, there is supposed to be some avenues for the have psychiatric help...I need it," Biersmith said.

Both Christopher and the other relative were preteens when, according to the lawsuit, Monahan took them on trips and sexually assaulted them.

Depression, lifestyle and feelings of shame from the abuse changed the paths of their lives. But, Biersmith hopes the settlement will help them try to put the abuse behind them.

"That they somehow could lead a life that was God gave them before this had happened...If this could just be taken out of their life and they would have just skipped that step and go on...and have that kind of a life...that's what I would like," said Biersmith.

The family hasn't spoken to Hugh Monahan in years and has no idea where he is. Other priests named in the suit, like Thomas O'Brien, are not allowed to perform any priestly duties.


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