|Church to Pay $4 Million in Pueblo Cases of Sexual Abuse
By Kirk Mitchell
October 30, 2008
The lawsuits of 23 men who alleged they were sexually abused by a Marianist brother who taught at Roncalli High School in Pueblo have been settled for $4 million.
The settlement with the Diocese of Pueblo and Marianist Religious Order was announced Thursday by a Florida law firm representing the men.
Between 1966 and 1971, according to the plaintiffs, they were sexually abused by Brother William Mueller at the all-boys high school, said attorneys Jeffrey M. Herman and Adam D. Horowitz of Miami.
The victims say they were molested by Mueller in the band room. According to the lawsuits, Mueller told each of the students he was performing a confidential experiment.
Under the guise of this "experiment," Mueller used ether to render the boys helpless and commit sexual abuse, including sodomy, the lawsuit alleged.
Pueblo Bishop Arthur Tafoya said his goal was to resolve the cases and provide a sense of closure, compassion and justice for the victims.
"It was my honor to have met with each of these men, and I again offer to them and their families my apologies and regrets for everything that they have experienced," Tafoya said in a statement. "I sincerely hope that this resolution will provide some peace for these men, and also for the people of the Diocese of Pueblo, who have been affected."
The diocese will continue to help the victims, and Tafoya said they are welcome in the church community.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs said they found evidence that Mueller abused numerous other students while working for the Marianists for more than 20 years at high schools in St. Louis and San Antonio.
More than 40 victims have reported they were abused by Mueller, who lives in San Antonio, Horowitz said. His law firm is handling five more cases in Texas.
One St. Louis victim, Bryan Bacon, settled a suit for $160,000.
"We consider (Mueller) to be one of the most prolific abusers among Catholic clergy," Horowitz said.
The Catholic Church has adopted better policies that could prevent identified molesters from moving on to new posts as Mueller did, he said.
"We are happy to get closure for our clients, but I am disturbed by the allegations that the Marianists knew William Mueller was a sexual predator in St. Louis before they sent him to Pueblo," Herman said.
Horowitz and Herman dropped one client, Thomas Roy Monroe, after The Denver Post reported that he told relatives in self-recorded telephone conversations that he was not a sexual-assault victim.
Monroe has since said he misspoke in the phone conversations because he was in denial. He said his abuse wasn't as severe as what his classmates received.
He refiled charges in Pueblo District Court with a different attorney, and his case is pending.
At the Vatican New screening guidelines created for priests.
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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