San Diego Diocese Discloses 1999 Abuse Settlement

Associated Press State & Local Wire [San Diego]
May 9, 2002

A man who claimed a Roman Catholic priest molested him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in 1985 reportedly received a $95,000 settlement from the church in a previously undisclosed case.

Jeremy Norton, 29, said he received the settlement in 1999 after alleging he was molested by a priest at St. Martin's Church in La Mesa, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego confirmed the lawsuit but did not disclose any details.

Norton's family said the priest did not admit wrongdoing in the out-of-court settlement. At the time, the family signed a confidentiality agreement but they decided to discuss the case, saying it might help the church heal during the widening national sexual abuse scandal.

In his lawsuit, Norton said the Rev. John Keith took the boy out of his elementary school class without his mother's knowledge and bought him toys. Once alone, the boy was forced to fondle the priest, according to the lawsuit.

The family said the priest molested the boy several times but only detailed one incident in the suit.

Keith, 76, denied the allegations in an interview with the newspaper at a San Diego retirement home.

"I swear to God none of this happened," he said. "But I have an idea he was convinced it happened, by his mother."


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