The Archdiocese of Dubuque has settled twenty sexual-abuse lawsuits out of court. Archbishop Jerome Hanus announced today (Tuesday) that five-Million dollars will be paid to the twenty plaintiffs who say they were abused by priests in the archdiocese, mostly in the 1950s and sixties.
Hanus says the mediation process that settled it took place over two days, and he met with those who could attend, though most of the victims weren’t able to attend. Hanus says most of the others made videotapes, in which they described the abuse and its effect on their lives. The priests who were named in the lawsuits included Albert Carman, William Goltz, Patrick McElliot, John Peters, William Roach, John Schmitz, all now dead, and William Schwartz, who was dismissed from the clergy.
Besides the financial settlement, he says the archdiocese committed to several activities including raising awareness of the effects of sexual abuse on minors, and inviting victims to come forward to seek help, things he says the archdiocese has already been doing. The agreement stipulates that the archdiocese will list on its website the names of the accused priests and where they were serving when the alleged incidents took place. It will continue to publish notices inviting victims to contact law enforcement, and to come forward.
The archdiocese will also pay for counseling for victims. Archbishop Hanus says the five-million-dollar settlement will not affect personnel. Most of the settlement will come from the self-insurance program, the Dubuque Archdiocesan Protection Program, and he says a few instances that happened in the 1970s may be partially covered by an outside insurance company.
During today’s press conference, the archbishop condemned priests who have committed sexual abuse. He called them “a disgrace to the vocation and a scandal to the faithful,” reminding listeners that the great majority of priests are “good and holy servants of God and God’s people.” He said they give of their time generously, abhor sexual abuse, and work hard to see that the parishes, schools and other institutions of the archdiocese are safe. There are no more suits pending at this time against the archdiocese.