Abuse Victims Launch Protest

By Adam Parker
The Post and Courier

December 9, 2008

Eight people held signs and cited financial hardship while protesting outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston on Monday, saying the church was late in paying funds awarded in a settlement of sexual abuse cases.

The protest was endorsed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, commonly known as SNAP.

Larry Mullen, one of the victims, said Catholic officials have found excuses to delay payment of $1.375 million in a settlement negotiated by Charleston attorney Gregg Meyers in the wake of a larger class-action lawsuit that required the diocese to pay up to $12 million to victims and their families.

A group of victims who opted out of that larger agreement are the plaintiffs in Meyers' separate settlement.

"Some of us have had to file bankruptcy, some of us have had to apply for food stamps and some of us are about to lose our homes because of this delay," Mullen said in a statement, adding that the lack of resolution felt "like salt is being rubbed in our wounds."

The diocese has said it could not pay Meyers' clients until all legal claims were resolved. The diocese also cited an unauthorized addition of a plaintiff to Meyers' settlement.

"We are happy to abide by the original agreement," said diocese spokesman Steve Gajdosik at the time. "The money is there, but we cannot pay it with this pending action."

Meyers said Monday that he received a letter from the diocese last week asserting that because he had not signed a release and had added a 12th plaintiff after the settlement had been negotiated, along with new demands, the diocese was forced to rely on the court for resolution.

The two sides are waiting for a hearing with Dorchester Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein.


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