Monday, September 14, 2009

Priest abuse lawsuits settled

Last updated September 13, 2009 1:39 p.m. PT

Official: 2 men settle suits alleging priest abuse
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PUEBLO, Colo. -- Two men who filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually abused by a former priest have reached settlements with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Monsignor Mark Plewka of the diocese confirmed the settlements with a man and his nephew, The Pueblo Chieftain said.

The man alleged Andrew Burke abused him from 1970-78. The lawsuits accuse Burke of establishing a similar relationship with the man's nephew.

Burke left the priesthood in 1973. He committed suicide in September 2005 at age 62, after reporters asked questions about the allegations.

The man had sought $1.8 million from the diocese and the release of Burke's personnel file.

Terms of the settlements weren't disclosed, but Burke's file was not released.

Another man who alleges Burke abused him previously won the right to look at Burke's personnel file, which may show how early the diocese was aware of allegations of abuse.

The Colorado Supreme Court recently affirmed a decision by a Pueblo District judge compelling the diocese to release Burke's file to the John Doe accuser.

Plewka and lawyer Adam Horowitz, who represents the accuser, said last week the diocese provided Burke's file to the plaintiff's lawyers.

The diocese immediately followed its compliance with a request to the court seeking to keep Burke's file sealed from public viewing. Horowitz said he intends to challenge the request.

Last year, the diocese and the Marianist religious order agreed to pay about $4 million to 23 men who said they were sexually abused when they attended Roncalli High School in Pueblo.

The school, which closed in 1971, was owned by the diocese.

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Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com

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