Cops & Crime
4:51 am
Fri August 22, 2008

Clergy Sex Abuse Is Measured; Arbitrator Calculates

A contract is sealed between 47 men and women and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese. Bishop Robert Finn admits plaintiffs suffered sexual abuse when they were young boys or girls over a period that spanned five decades.

Outside Crown Center District law offices, where arbitrations are deciding how $10 million in church funds will be divided among the 47, lawyers say the atmosphere inside is so charged nearly everyone has been weeping.

The independent arbitrator is hearing descriptions of abuse and gauging the duration and severity. But the outside subject is the non-money settlement, point after point detailed by attorney Rebecca Randles who says, "these are the most far-reaching non-monetary commitments that have ever been negotiated between a diocese and the victims of childhood sexual abuse anywhere in the United States and as far as we know, anywhere in the world."

Still, there is dissatisfaction that not all the offending clergy will be stripped of their clerical powers. Plaintiffs say the bishop refused to go that far. Others wanted guarantees the bishop would visit every parish where molestations occurred, but there is no contractual agreement.