|Wednesday, June 11, 2003|
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville archdiocese (search) will pay $25.7 million to settle nearly 250 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the Roman Catholic church (search), both sides announced Tuesday.
"No settlement is one that either side jumps up and down and celebrates," plaintiffs' attorney William McMurry said. "What's to be celebrated is the closure that this settlement brings to these cases, to the lives of these people, to the many years of torment and certainly to this Catholic community, to get this very ugly business behind them."
The archdiocese has been inundated with lawsuits over the past 14 months from people who claim they were sexually abused as children. The suits, many of them containing decades-old revelations, claim the archdiocese knew of the abuse (search) but concealed it and did nothing to stop it.
No monetary figures had been raised by either side heading into the negotiations.
McMurry previously said he would seek a settlement that would "fairly and adequately" compensate the victims and demonstrate the archdiocese's "complicity and accountability and guilt over the last 50 years."
The archdiocese has said it expects to spend more than $1 million on legal, settlement and counseling costs by June 30, the end of its fiscal year. It recently announced it was cutting 34 jobs, or about 12 percent of its work force, as well as freezing salaries and slashing its budget by about $2 million.
"The archdiocese has been here for 200 years and we're still going to be here," Brian Reynolds, the archdiocese's chancellor and chief administrative officer, said Tuesday. "The people of this local church want to ensure that the church and the community stay alive, active and vibrant."
Hundreds of people have signed petitions calling for Archbishop Thomas Kelly's resignation for his handling of allegedly sexually abusive priests.
The Rev. Louis Miller, the retired priest at the forefront of the scandal, was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for decades of sexual misconduct against children. He pleaded guilty to more abuse charges Monday.
Two other priests, the Revs. Daniel C. Clark and James Hargadon and a former priest, Bruce Ewing are awaiting trial. All have pleaded innocent and were employed by the Louisville archdiocese.
Bernard Queenan, who was one of Miller's alleged victims, said he was gratified to get word of the settlement.
"Nobody wanted a long-term thing with 200 trials dragging on for years," he said. "I hope everybody will get some peace now."