Friday, February 4, 2011

Unsettled claims
Clergy abuse in Delaware: Unsettled claims to be pursued
Cases against religious orders remain
By CHAD LIVENGOOD • The News Journal • February 4, 2011

Declaring victory in a proposed $77.4 million settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, attorneys for 146 priest sex-abuse victims said Thursday they now will pursue unsettled claims against three religious orders.

"We are now moving forward, aiming our guns at the three remaining religious orders who we are told have a pool of at least $80 million in insurance policies alone to compensate survivors," attorney Thomas Neuberger said.
A priest sex-abuse case against the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the order that operates Salesianum School, goes to trial Feb. 27, Neuberger said.
The settlement announced Wednesday would end pending litigation against the Diocese of Wilmington.
"It is our hope and prayer that the settlement's monetary and non-monetary terms will begin the healing process for clergy sexual abuse survivors," Bishop W. Francis Malooly wrote Thursday in a letter posted on the diocesan website.
During a news conference, Neuberger and survivors emphasized the non-economic terms of the proposed settlement, which include requiring priests to sign a document annually attesting they have no knowledge of child abuse in parishes and schools.
The Diocese of Wilmington also agreed to release an enormous cache of "secret church archives" dating to the middle of the 19th century that may shed more light on the depth and extent of sexual abuse of children in Delaware parishes, Neuberger said.
The diocese's agreement to release the documents is unprecedented and could trigger worldwide pressure on other dioceses in the Roman Catholic Church to open up secret archives, said Thomas Crumplar, another attorney for priest sex-abuse victims.
"Victories we gain here support abuse victims in Ireland, support abuse victims in Indonesia and everywhere else," Crumplar said.
Abuse survivor Mary Dougherty, 58, of Claymont, said she hopes the records bring about "a sense of peace" for Catholics who were molested and raped by priests as children.
"There's never closure," Dougherty said. "Any child that is sexually abused never forgets. It stays with you forever."

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