Archdiocese Settles Teacher Sex-Abuse Case

By Barbara Ross
Daily News
September 19, 2000

A former altar boy who sued his parish and the Archdiocese of New York after his former teacher sexually assaulted him as a child settled his case yesterday for an undisclosed sum.

The settlement abruptly ended a trial that could have further embarrassed Archbishop Egan, who was in charge of the archdiocese's schools when the assaults began in 1987.

"I am satisfied with the outcome," said the plaintiff, Brian O'Rourke, 25. He declined to elaborate.

O'Rourke's attorney, Michael Dowd, said silence was part of the deal with the archdiocese and St. Frances de Chantal Church, the Throgs Neck parish where O'Rourke said teacher Linda Baisi, a former nun, molested him beginning when he was 12.

Dowd said his client appreciated church attorneys' acknowledgment in their opening statements last week that O'Rourke had been abused.

The lawyers changed their position when Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Louise Gruner-Gans said Baisi, 53, by not defending herself at trial, had in effect admitted her guilt.

The case was settled as O'Rourke was set to testify about what happened on his visits to Baisi's apartment in the Bronx.

His testimony was to include two tape-recorded conversations with Baisi in which she acknowledged their sexual encounters and threatened to commit suicide if he reported them.

Dowd also planned to show jurors in coming weeks how - in his view - the archdiocese and school had failed to supervise Baisi adequately and had failed to train its staff to recognize child abuse.

Last week, Dowd told jurors that the archdiocese had conducted a seminar on child abuse for parochial school principals six weeks before O'Rourke was first abused.

However, at St. Frances, he said, the advice never reached the staff.

Dowd planned to use a document from that seminar where a church official took notes saying teachers who call the state's child abuse hotline should "hang up" before giving their names.

He said last week that the document was part of his proof that church officials "were blind" to the abuse that O'Rourke's 12-year-old classmates saw and teased him about.


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