Newfoundland diocese settles abuse claim

  • January 6, 2009
{mosimage}The Corner Brook and Labrador diocese in Newfoundland has cut a cheque for $13 million and turned the page on a sexual abuse case that drove the diocese into bankruptcy.

The final payment to almost 40 men who had been abused as boys by a priest in several rural parishes was about $2 million less than originally envisioned in the settlement between victims and the diocese. But it avoided further court proceedings that would have delayed payment and eaten up the settlement in legal costs, said Bishop Doug Crosby.

The former priest, Kevin Bennett, was sentenced in 1990 to four years in jail for his crimes.

"We're now able to think about the future," Crosby told The Catholic Register. "It's really a blessing that it's done."

In March 2005 the now defunct diocese of St. George's went into bankruptcy, turned over all its investments and other financial assets and began a process of selling off all its properties to pay the victims of Bennett. The diocese also pursued an insurance claim which became part of the final $13 million.

Though Crosby has offered to meet individually with each victim, has sent letters to the victims and has publicly apologized on behalf of his church, bitterness and anger remains and none of the victims have chosen to meet with Crosby.

"I haven't heard a single (victim) say anything good about the Catholic Church," victims' lawyer Greg Stack told the CBC.

"I don't know what else we can do," Crosby said.

Crosby marvels at the steadfastness of his priests and lay people who have remained committed while their churches were sold and their faith equated with sexual exploitation.

"It has been very painful, but they're there and continue to be there," he said. "The priests have been very, very faithful to the people. I honour the fact they have been faithful."

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