Diocese Settles Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Issues Apology to Victim
Douglas J. McClure Will Receive $1.5m for Incidents Dating Back to the 1950s

By Esteban Parra
News Journal
April 9, 2009

The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington agreed to settle a nearly 2 1/2-year-old sex-abuse lawsuit for $1.5 million -- the largest settlement amount disclosed since Delaware passed one of the nation's toughest laws against child sexual abuse in 2007.

In addition, 63-year-old Douglas J. McClure received letters of apology for the abuse he suffered at the hands of the late Rev. Edward B. Carley when McClure was a parishioner at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Wilmington in the 1950s. The letters came from Bishop Francis Malooly on behalf of the Diocese and from Monsignor Thomas Cini on behalf of St. Ann's, McClure's attorney, Thomas S. Neuberger, said.

"Getting this behind me is a bigger deal to me than coming home from Vietnam," McClure, a retired Marine Corps sergeant, said. "I hope that my sharing the horrors which were done to me will somehow give strength to Carley's many other victims to come forward and face their fears. You cannot get a do-over with your life, but by coming forward, you can seize control and take back the power he took from you so long ago. I am living proof."

McClure was among the first in the current wave of lawsuits to seek compensation for past sexual abuse by a priest, filing his civil action in December 2006, before Delaware passed the 2007 Child Victim's Act that suspended the statute of limitations on such matters for two years so that childhood victims of sexual abuse could seek compensation in civil cases.

At the time McClure filed the lawsuit, he said he had bottled up memories of the abuse for decades but in 2005 the memories all came flooding back after reading a January 2005 story in The News Journal about Carley's alleged abuse of a St. Ann's classmate.

At that time, the diocese admitted Carley abused boys and apologized for his "despicable actions" as part of a $65,000 settlement with McClure's classmate.

On Wednesday, the diocese made a similar admission and apology.

"The Diocese and St. Ann's Church acknowledge that Mr. McClure is a human being and apologize to him, his wife and family, and to the people of the Diocese of Wilmington for the actions of former diocesan priest Edward Carley," said a statement issued Wednesday morning by Diocese spokesman Robert G. Krebs. "They express deep sorrow for any abuse Mr. McClure suffered as a child at the hands of Edward Carley, and also for the suffering of his family as a result of such abuse. The Diocese and St. Ann's are deeply ashamed of Carley's abusive misconduct, and that Carley betrayed his mission to give healing and the love of God."

Carley, who died in 1998, has been named in two other lawsuits claiming he would lure boys by flashing large amounts of money, giving them gifts and alcohol and allowing them to drive his car.

Carley, who was assistant pastor of St. Ann's from 1954 to 1962, would sometimes molest McClure while praying, reading the Bible or explaining the mystery of the Eucharist.

Because insurance funds are not available for cases dating to the 1950s and '60s, Krebs said settlement for McClure will come from "the unrestricted reserves of the Diocese" -- that is money set aside and invested over the years for emergency needs.

This is the fourth sex-abuse case Neuberger has settled.

"This is a tremendous victory for all survivors of abuse here in Delaware," said Neuberger, who praised Delaware lawmakers for enacting the Child Victim's Act. "Even in an older case like this one from the 1950s, if a survivor has the courage to come forward, the witnesses and the documents still can be found, and many came forward to support Doug."


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