By Jack Smith
Catholic Key Editor
The Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph entered into an agreement to settle 32 abuse claims for a total amount of $9.95 million. The settlement resolves claims filed between 2010 and earlier this year alleging abuse by diocesan priests between 1963 and 1987.
A diocesan statement announcing the agreement on October 14 said, “The Diocese sincerely hopes that this settlement can bring about some closure to those hurt by abuse in the past. The Diocese also prays for a healing which can bring peace to the hearts of all of those hurt by child sexual abuse.”
“The abuse of a child is a terrible crime and sin,” Bishop Robert W. Finn later told the Key. “When that abuse is perpetrated by a person in a position of trust, suffering for the victim is compounded.”
“No amount of money can bring healing to a victim of abuse and neither can offers of sorrow,” Bishop Finn said. “But we must express great sorrow for victims of sexual abuse, and I do so on my own behalf and on behalf of the Catholic community. I also offer my prayer for true and lasting healing.”
The settlement agreement came before jurors were to hear closing arguments in a case alleging abuse against the late Monsignor Thomas O’Brien. In 2011, a former parishioner and student at Nativity of Mary brought a suit claiming abuse by O’Brien in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The plaintiff in that case had sought $10 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. Last week’s agreement settles that case as well as 31 other historical claims.
“The Diocese performs many important ministries and services for the public,” Bishop Finn said. “While this settlement is certainly difficult, I hope it gives the Diocese the ability to refocus and move forward with its works that are vital to the health of not only the local Church, but the entire community.”