Mon July 8, 2013
KC Diocese Settles Sex Abuse Death Case On Trial Eve
There was a surprise ending to what may have been a landmark sex abuse case against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese.
Both sides reached a settlement in the middle of jury selection as trial was to begin in Jackson County Circuit Court at Independence, Mo.
The civil court action stemmed from the 1983 death of a former altar boy.
A statement from the diocese said, in part, that while facts of the case remain unclear, "the tragedy of it is certain."
For the first time, at least in Missouri, an arm of the Catholic hierarchy had been sued alleging wrongful death stemming from sexual abuse.
The Diocese will pay $2.25 million. There will be no trial or testimony.
Rosemary and Donald Teeman, formerly of Independence, filed the suit decades after their 14-year-old son, Brian, shot himself to death. The suit alleged Monsignor Thomas O’Brien had abused the boy who ended his life with a shotgun 28 years ago.
O'Brien had been assigned Nativity Parish in Independence.
The statement from the diocese asked that God's "peace descend on the Teeman family."
The last time the church was involved in an actual trial over alleged Missouri sexual abuse by a priest was in 1999.
The Teeman’s had claimed for years that their son died accidentally, deciding to affirm his suicide when the suit was filed in 2011 against the retired priest and the diocese for which he had worked.