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article imageDenver Archdiocese to Pay $5.5 Million in Abuse Suits

By Owen Weldon     Jul 1, 2008 in World
The Archdiocese of Denver announced on Tuesday that it is going to pay $5.5 million to settle more than a dozen lawsuits over sexual abuse by priests.
The lawsuits were filed by people who said that as children, they were abused by priests from 1954 to 1981 and they claim that that archdiocese concealed the crimes. There were 16 lawsuits filed and two additional claims against the archdiocese.
The settlements bring to 42 the number of abuse claims the archdiocese has settled since 2005 against two priests, the Rev. Harold Robert White and the Rev. Leonard Abercrombie. rev. Lawrence St. Peter was also accused in a43rd case that was also settled. So far the settlements totals more than $8.2 million and two more lawsuits against the archdiocese have yet to be resolved.
The three priests have died and a fourth, Father White, left priesthood at his own request. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that it is unclear if that was related to the accusations.
Charles J. Chaput is an archbishop and he hopes that the settlements help the victims and their families to heal. Chaput apologized once again to the victims.
After the Archbishop announced the settlement, people who reported being abused spoke up at the news conference and their voices were thick with grief and anger as they recalled coming forward after years of silence.
Brandon Trask, 52, was one of the first people to go public with accusations that, as a young boy, he had been molested repeatedly by Father White. Trask says that it took a lot of courage for him to go to the archdiocese.
“I asked them, ‘Did you know, when did you know and was anyone else ever asked about this person?’ ” Trask said of initial efforts to get information from the archdiocese about his abuse. Trask than said that he was told that he could not be told that information.
Randy Becker, 47, is another accuser and he spoke softly with his family by his side. Becker said that he still has faith in Jesus Christ but lost all of his faith in the Catholic church.
Tom Koldeway, 47, stood alongside with his brother and sister and accused Father White of molestation and said that the greatest satisfaction he had at the settlement was being able to reveal the church's complicity in the matter.
Archbishop Chaput called the abuse tragic and said that he had offered to meet face to face with every single accuser and he than added that some of the accusers had responded to his request.
According to Chaput, the settlements will be paid out of church assets but no diocesan property will be sold.
David Clohessy is the national director of the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and he said that sexual abuse settlements did not represent any fundamental challenge to the church's longstanding patterns of recklessness and secrecy. He also said that such settlements enabled church officials to avoid testifying in open court.
Clohessy than said that “any validation that horrific crimes happened, were concealed and could have been prevented can be very, very healing.”
It is about time this lawsuit ended but I do not think that this will fully heal the wounds of the victims. I would imagine that they will always remember those events that unfolded as they were kids. If there is proof of the abuse than the priests should spend time in prison just like anyone else who would commit crimes like these.
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