Five clergy sex cases settled in NJ, SNAP responds
We applaud these brave men who found the strength to report abuse and the wisdom to take legal action. We hope this resolution brings them some long-overdue and sorely needed healing.
We also hope it will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids and start healing. It’s always tempting to keep quiet about child sex crimes – whether known or suspected. However, it’s also always irresponsible. Kids are only safe when adults are brave and caring enough to speak up.
NO amount of money can restore the shattered faith and stolen childhoods of these wounded men. But through their compassionate actions, they can help repair some of the horrific damage they have experienced. And, in the process, they can inspire others to take steps to safeguard kids.
We hope every single individual with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes – by Becker or other priests, nuns, seminarians or bishops – will do what’s right and step forward.
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Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
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By John P. Martin INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - The Catholic Diocese of Trenton has agreed to pay $1 million to five men who claimed their parish priest sexually abused them when they were altar boys 30 years ago, lawyers for the men said Tuesday.
The settlements bring to $1.3 million the amount the diocese has paid to alleged abuse victims of the Rev. Ronald Becker. Becker was removed from the priesthood in 2002 after allegations against him first surfaced. He has since died.
Becker molested the five boys at Incarnation parish in Ewing hundreds of times between 1972 and 1984, in spans that ranged from six months to four years, according to Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston-based lawyer who represented the men. The abuse occurred in the church, the rectory and on trips.
The men came forward after another of Becker's victims went public with her allegations two years ago. The settlements announced Tuesday followed months of mediation.
One of the victims, 45-year-old Otis Roberts, said he came forward in part to protect his 11 year-old-son, who is now the same age he was when Roberts was molested. Trembling as he read a statement, Roberts said the abuse destroyed his life and his faith.
"I don't believe in the church anymore," Roberts said. "I believe it's a business. And I saw that during mediation."
The Diocese admitted no liability and did not apologize to the men, their lawyers said.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese said it would release a statement on the matter later Tuesday.
The settlement is the latest in a series of payouts nationally over abuse claims. Earlier this month, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, a Delaware-based religious order with priests throughout the region, agreed to pay $24 million to settle 39 lawsuits by alleged sex abuse victims. And the Diocese of Wilmington, which was forced by a wave of abuse claims to file for bankruptcy, has agreed to set aside more than $77 million for 150 abuse victims. Other settlements have been reached in Corpus Christi, Pueblo, Colo. and Kansas City, Mo.
More than a half-dozen similar claims are pending against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, all filed in the wake of the arrests of four current and former priests and grand jury report that accused the archdiocese of failing to reform.
Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.