Victim of Clergy Abuse Turns down Settlement Offer

Associated Press
March 20, 2003

A Burrillville woman on Thursday turned down a $400,000 offer from the Diocese of Providence to settle a civil suit alleging sexual abuse by a priest.

Mary Ryan told Superior Court Judge Robert Krause she wants to proceed with her 1995 lawsuit against the diocese and the late Monsignor Louis Ward Dunn, who was convicted of raping her.

Ryan is the only one of 38 alleged victims of sexual abuse in Rhode Island who did not join a $14.25 million settlement with the diocese, announced last September.

Lawyers for the church recently made the settlement offer to Ryan in open court. She had until Thursday to respond to the offer.

"After reflecting ... we've decided to go forward with proceedings rather than settle," Ryan said. She also advised the court she would represent herself because she has been unable to find an attorney to take her case.

Ryan's former attorney, Steven Robinson, claims she turned down a previous $400,000 offer from the church to settle, before the group settlement was announced last fall. Robinson withdrew as her attorney and filed a motion in October claiming a $160,000 lien on any future settlement.

Lawyers for the church want Krause to dismiss Ryan's case, claiming it was filed after a three-year statute of limitations. Krause did not rule on that motion.

William T. Murphy, a lawyer for the diocese, said after the hearing that the church would still consider a settlement, "but this is a two-way street."

Ryan, a mother of four, left the hearing without comment.


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