Settlement Clears Therapist from Case
Sister Claudia Wong Is Dismissed from a Sex Abuse Lawsuit
By Debra Barayuga
April 8, 2005
A Hawaii man who accused a Catholic priest of sexually assaulting him 28 years ago has reached a settlement with a therapist who counseled him after he reported the abuse.
Eugene Saulibio, whose complaint of sexual misconduct led to the dismissal of Rev. Joseph Bukoski, sued the priest and his order, the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts, in May 2003 for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.
Also named as a defendant in the suit was Sister Claudia Wong, a family and marriage therapist who counseled Saulibio after he came forward with his claims in May 2002.
Wong, in court papers, asked the court to rule that the settlement had been reached in good faith. Circuit Judge Bert Ayabe granted the request without objection by the parties on Wednesday and dismissed Wong from the lawsuit.
Under the settlement, Wong will pay Saulibio $50,000 and issue a letter of apology for the pain he suffered as a result of their May 27, 2002 meeting.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in November with Bukoski and the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts as remaining defendants.
In the lawsuit, Saulibio alleged that Wong made certain representations in an attempt to make him doubt whether he had been sexually assaulted in the past and to assist the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts in defending any claims brought by him.
According to court documents, Wong has denied the allegations and contends Saulibio misunderstood her statements. She recalled that Saulibio might have been upset when she informed him that her primary concern was in addressing his feelings and responses to a sexual assault rather than determining what he could recall of the details of the assault.
Mark Bernstein, attorney for Saulibio, called the settlement with Wong "fair and reasonable" and said they are looking forward to trying the case in court in November.
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