Costs for Predatory Catholic Priests Keep Rising

By Associated Press, carried in Newsday
March 14, 2009,0,953240.story

The price for failing to rein in predatory clergy keeps rising for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

The church has paid more than $2.6 billion in settlements and related expenses since 1950, according to an annual update released Friday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It's not clear how much of that sum was paid out by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, but jury awards, settlements and statements by Bishop William Murphy suggest an amount more than $25 million.

The costs to the nation's dioceses and religious orders dropped in 2008 by 29 percent, to about $463 million. But 2007 was an unusually high year, when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles began paying its $660-million settlement to about 500 people.

"The overall costs are still very high," said Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, who does the statistics each year.

New allegations continue to pour in seven years after the abuse scandal erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The number of claims rose last year by 16 percent to 803. As in previous years, nearly all the new cases were brought by adults who said they were abused as children decades ago.

Most of the accused are dead, missing or already out of the priesthood.

In 2004, Murphy apologized to the diocese, saying 132 persons had reported being abused by 66 Catholic priests since the parish's founding in 1957. In that 47-year period, the bishop said, the diocese had paid more than $3.8 million for therapy and legal settlements. A remaining $10 million now set aside in a special fund would be used "to assist victims until it is exhausted," Murphy said.

Then in 2007, the diocese said it would not appeal an $11.45-million jury award to two boys who were raped by Michael Maiello, an East Meadow parish youth minister.

Staff writer Joseph Mallia contributed to this story.

Church abuse

An annual review of Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders shows abuse claims increased 16 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Costs related to allegations

2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008

*Includes settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders, attorneys' fees and other costs


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