Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Posted On: July 26, 2009

Catholic Church pays $3.9 million to settle Chicago sex-abuse claims

Six surviving victims of sexual abuse by priests will receive portions of a $3.9 million settlement paid by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, the New York Times reported.

As part of this latest settlement, the archdiocese also released a bishop's deposition, which detailed the church's failure to report the crimes in an effort to keep them secret.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Raymond E. Goedert, formerly the second-highest ranking official in the Catholic Church of Chicago, admitted that he knew 25 priests broke the law by sexually abusing children but did not report them, according the the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I knew the civil law considered it a crime," Goedert said in the deposition. "But I'm not a civil lawyer. We knew it was wrong, what was done. (But) I simply would not talk about it to anyone except those who had a right to know because of their position in the diocese."

The abuse happened between 1970 and 1986 and the church noted that the priests involved were all removed from ministry by 1991.

The deposition shows how "deeply ingrained secrecy" is in this archdiocese, Barbara Dorris, the outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement. "That confidentiality allowed the archdiocese to move serial predators from parish to parish without congregations' knowledge about child-abuse allegations," she said.

The settlement documents including Goedert's deposition and a list of priests with sustained allegations of abuse are posted at bishop-accountability.org.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago paid more than $15.8 million in legal settlements related to sexual abuse last year, amounting to $80.2 million in claims from June 2001 to June 2008, according to the Chicago Tribune.