Lawyer for Church Says He Hid His Own Sexual Abuse
The New York Times
Published: November 25, 2003
George E. Cire, a Houston lawyer who represented a family that
sued the church in 2000, said: "Certainly he was not overly sympathetic
to the victims. Not that he was overly confrontational with them,
but he just didn't give in."
"My guess is he took such a hard stance just to cover up any sympathy
he may have been feeling for the victims," Mr. Cire said.
Mr. Scamardo said his anguish built gradually. First there was
the gray-haired woman. Then a victim he had met committed suicide.
In June 2002, with the scandal in Boston propelling victims forward,
Mr. Scamardo said he got an e-mail message from a man who said he
had been abused by Dan Delaney — the priest in the hotel room.
Mr. Scamardo said it dawned on him then: a man abused by a priest
as a teenage boy had spent most of his legal career defending priests
who abused teenage boys.
By August 2002, Mr. Scamardo said, he was thinking about suicide.
A victim walked out of a mediation session, and Mr. Scamardo said
he felt "like the enemy."
In September, he wrote long letters to Bishops Fiorenza and Aymond
revealing his abuse. He asked Bishop Aymond to help pay for a month
at a residential treatment center north of Dallas. He stayed nearly
three months, which cost the Austin diocese $33,443.
He went back to work, but felt awkward, he said . While he had
been a frequent visitor to Bishop Fiorenza's office, now he could
not get in, he said. He declared his intention to resign, and asked
for a little time.
Meanwhile, regarding it as a friendly negotiation, Mr. Scamardo
wrote the bishop of Austin suggesting a settlement of $437,500 to
cover medical bills for him and his family, lost income, pain and
In a March 25 response, which Mr. Scamardo shared with The Times,
Bishop Aymond, who began serving in Austin in 2001, apologized profusely
and said he wanted to help. He reminded Mr. Scamardo that his claim
was beyond the statute of limitations, and countered with $50,000
plus medical expenses for 12 months.
Since insurance would not cover it, the bishop warned, "any financial
settlement would be taken from the money that is given by the parishioners
on Sunday in the collection."
Mr. Scamardo, angry and offended, began looking for a lawyer. Within
10 days, the Diocese of Galveston-Houston hired a new general counsel.
Mr. Scamardo quit in May.
On Oct. 29, he signed a settlement with the Diocese of Austin for
$250,000. He has opened his own law practice in Houston. He says
he does not think he can emotionally handle sexual abuse cases but
may serve as an expert witness in trials.
He said he prayed and believed in God "more than ever." But the
last time he went to church was on the Feast of the Pentecost in
June. "I have a lot of grief because my whole belief system in the
church is just gone," he said.
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