A large settlement reached in clergy abuse case in Philadelphia- SNAP applauds the brave victim
(For Immediate Release August 9, 2023)
A victim of a notorious predator priest who had a very long career in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has reached a settlement with church officials for $3.5 million. The courageous survivor, whose identity remains confidential, has been commended for his bravery in disclosing his suffering, seeking justice in court, and enduring a lengthy litigation process.
The size of this settlement reflects the overwhelming evidence that Catholic officials possess, revealing their repeated and callous disregard for the safety of children. Fearing the exposure of incriminating information in court or in the public domain, they have resorted to compensating victims and their insurers have followed suit.
Media reports indicate that in March 2011, Father John Close was among 21 priests placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior with minors. These suspensions followed the release of the second grand jury report, which identified over 30 priests in active ministry accused of sexual misconduct.
By June 2011, two male accusers had come forward, both alleging that Father Close had sexually abused them as young teenagers, one in 1969 and the other from 1992 to 1994. Father Close vehemently denied these allegations. One of the victims attempted to report the abuse to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1998 but received no response. Both accusers reported the abuse to the police, only to be informed that the statute of limitations prevented an investigation into Father Close. Despite the allegations, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's internal review board deemed them unsubstantiated, allowing Father Close to resume his ministry.
The recently settled lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleges that pastor John Close raped a boy at St. Katherine's of Siena in Wayne in 2006. The plaintiff, whose identity has been withheld, was attending a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program at the parish, where Close served as the head.
We call upon Archbishop Nelson Perez to utilize the vast resources at his disposal to locate and assist other victims of Father Close, particularly those whose reports were dismissed. Given the extensive career of a known predator like Close, it is difficult to fathom that he had only a few victims; we believe there may be hundreds. The archbishop should employ various channels, including parish bulletins, church websites, pulpit announcements, and news conferences, to implore anyone with information or suspicions about this dangerous predator to come forward.
Regardless of the actions taken by church officials, we urge anyone who witnessed, suspected, or suffered child sex crimes and cover-ups in Catholic churches or institutions to prioritize the safety of children. We encourage them to report these crimes to the police, seek assistance from therapists, expose wrongdoers to law enforcement, pursue justice through legal avenues, and find solace in support groups. By taking these steps, we can help create a safer environment for children, aid in the recovery of survivors, ensure the prosecution of criminals, deter cover-ups, and ultimately uncover the truth.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)