MO--Settlement checks come for abuse victims in time for Xmas
For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014
For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Checks arrive for abuse victims
Dozens settled with KC diocese
In rare move, they share nearly $10 million almost equally
And they include three whose cases were rejected by court
“It’s completely unprecedented,” says support group head
Dozens of Kansas City men and women who were sexually assaulted as children by priests have received their settlement checks, just in time for Christmas. And it what’s being called “an unprecedented act of generosity,” they are essentially sharing millions equally and including in the settlement three other victims whose cases were tossed out on legal technicalities.
“In my 25 years of work on the church’s abuse crisis, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “These incredibly kind victims agreed to divide their almost $10 million settlement basically equally and with three other survivors whose cases had already lost because their abuse happened away from church property so they had no legal standing whatsoever. We are so impressed by and so grateful to these incredible individuals.”
In November, almost 30 adults resolved their civil abuse and cover up lawsuits against the KC Missouri diocese and its convicted bishop, Robert Finn. They were represented by KC attorney Rebecca Randles (816 510 2704, firstname.lastname@example.org).
"I'm proud of every single abuse victim I've represented, and I've represented more than 100 of them," she said. "But I've never been more proud of my clients than I am now. Rather than try to 'compete' among themselves for a larger amount, they're showing tremendous sensitivity and kindness to one another."
The settlement came near the end of a nearly three week trial in which Jon David Couzens said that Msgr. Thomas O’Brien repeatedly molested him and that local Catholic officials could and should have prevented the crimes. O’Brien has been accused of sexually assaulting more children than any Missouri cleric, according to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“These wounded individuals are heroes for doing so much for so long to expose wrongdoing by Kansas City Catholic clerics. They have been courageous and compassionate and effective,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's outreach director. “This settlement won't magically heal them of the lifelong traumatic effects of the terrible assaults they endured as children. But we are confident that this settlement will help them in their recovery. And we’re thrilled the checks arrived before Christmas.”
“We hope this outcome will prod others who have been hurt by priests, nuns, deacons, seminarians and other Catholic employees to get help, come forward, expose wrongdoers and protect kids,” said Dorris.
Couzens was sexually violated by another KC priest - Fr. Isaac True. That case settled as well.
Because he endured what SNAP calls “a tough trial and cruel defense tactics by Finn’s lawyers,” the victims voted to give Couzens a somewhat larger share.
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.