Phoenix Diocese Settles Priest-Sex Lawsuit before Trial

By J.W. Brown
Phoenix Gazette
August 5, 1994

The parents of a boy molested by a priest have settled a 4-year-old lawsuit against him and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

George Bredemann, the defrocked priest, is serving a 45-year prison term for sexually preying on children.

The settlement came on the third day of jury selection as the Scottsdale family and the diocese prepared to go to trial in Maricopa County Superior Court.

A confidentiality pact prevents both sides from discussing the settlement.

But in an amiably worded joint statement, the family's lawyer and a spokeswoman for the diocese said: "In reaching this resolution each side has been motivated by a spirit of reconciliation and healing. This resolution will allow all of us to be at peace and move on in a spirit of Christian harmony."

The statement is in sharp contrast to a letter read from parish pulpits

Sunday from Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien that "excessive demands" of the lawsuit were forcing the church into court.

Thursday's prepared statement noted: "The diocese deeply regrets the pain and suffering that has been experienced by this family who were active and committed members of the Catholic community and their parish."

One of the nine children in the family was molested in October 1985 by Bredemann, who at the time was an associate pastor at St. Theresa's parish, 5045 East Thomas Road.

The victim, now 22, in turn became a child molester, preying on three sisters.

He was sent to the Adobe Mountain School in 1988. He has not lived with the family since then, according to court files.

Bredemann was transferred to St. Catherine of Sienna parish in south Phoenix in 1986.

In December 1988, he was indicted on five counts of child molestation and five counts of indecent exposure involving two brothers who attended St. Catherine's and the boy from St. Theresa's.

Rather than go to trial, Bredemann pleaded guilty to attempted sexual molestation and was sentenced to a year in jail and life probation.

However, he fled the state. After his rearrest and return to the Valley he was sentenced to prison for 45 years.

The brothers and their south Phoenix family filed a lawsuit against Bredemann and the diocese seeking damages for the emotional and psychological harm done by Bredemann.

A few months later, the Scottsdale victim and his family also sued.

The south Phoenix family settled their lawsuit in February 1991. Part of the settlement provided them with counseling and educational opportunities.

Richard Treon, the Scottsdale family's attorney, told the court there were "a lot of emotional issues involved in this case . . . and its settlement."

One of the diocese's lawyers, Foster Robberson, told the excused jurors that the two sides of the lawsuit "may not agree on the motivation of the settlement . . . but the system does work when there is a settlement. . . . The diocese is pleased with that result."

The man, who was molested by Bredemann as a 13-year-old boy, stood in the near-empty courtroom and commented that the settlement made him "feel a lot better."


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