Lake Worth Man's Lawsuit over Priest Abuse Settled

By Susan Spencer-Wendel
The Palm Beach Post
April 13, 2009,0,2627472.story

WEST PALM BEACH - A civil lawsuit poised to lay bare the Catholic Church's handling of sexual abuse claims against priests was settled on the cusp of trial.

Kevin Sidaway's 2002 claim against the Archdiocese of Miami, set for trial April 22, was resolved for a confidential amount of money, two attorneys for the Lake Worth man confirmed.

West Palm Beach litigator Jack Scarola said he was not surprised but was disappointed that there would be no public airing of Sidaway's experience.

Sidaway settled a sexual-abuse claim with the Archdiocese of Miami in 1998 for $900,000, then sued the church again in 2002, saying the reforms he pressed for had not been executed and that he was fraudulently induced to accept a lower amount.

"I believe there are some very, very significant lessons that rest in the facts of this case," Scarola said Thursday. "I am not surprised that the church hierarchy recognized the fact this would be an extremely dangerous case for them to allow to go to trial."

An attorney for the archdiocese, C. Brooks Ricca Jr., and archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta were not available to comment.

Sidaway, 53, also was not available to comment.

Sidaway has previously talked publicly of his sexual abuse by a priest from his Boynton Beach parish when Sidaway was 11 years old.

On a trip with the Rev. Rocco D'Angelo, a family friend, Sidaway was repeatedly sodomized, Scarola said.

When Sidaway discovered that D'Angelo, who is now deceased, was still a priest in St. Petersburg in the '90s and abusing others, Sidaway unsuccessfully sought criminal charges against him and then sued.

The trial in West Palm Beach was scheduled to take three weeks and appeared to be a potential bruiser for the church, with Archbishop John Favalora subpoenaed to testify, as well as church officials who brokered Sidaway's settlement with the church in 1998.

Also set to appear were lawyers who have settled priest sexual-abuse claims to testify as to the true value of Sidaway's old claim, Scarola said.

The lawsuit sought the difference between what was paid to Sidaway in 1998 and what the full value was, as well as punitive damages for what Scarola characterized as "intentional misconduct" by the church.

Sidaway sought $3 million in 1998.


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