Oblates settle abuse claims

$24.8M deal includes release of priests' names

The News Journal, Delaware/August 5, 2011

Wilmington -- The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the Catholic religious order that runs Salesianum School, on Thursday reached a $24.8 million settlement with survivors of sexual abuse by its priests.

As part of the settlement, the order released a list naming those 12 priests for the first time.

The settlement resolves 39 lawsuits against the Oblates, who were not part of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington's $77.4 million settlement with 154 survivors, a plan confirmed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The suits were filed under Delaware's 2007 Child Victims Act, which gave survivors of child sexual abuse two years to file suit even if their cases would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations. That two-year window ended in 2009, and the diocese filed for Chapter 11 protection a few months later.

Most of the Oblates' settlement money -- $23.5 million -- will be paid into the trust fund for survivors set up during the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings, boosting it past $100 million.

Thirty-seven of the 39 survivors covered in the Oblates' agreement and all survivors included in the diocese settlement will receive payment from that fund according to a formula crafted by a committee of abuse survivors. The other two in Thursday's settlement, who sued the Oblates and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will receive payment of $1.27 million from the Oblates, attorneys said.

As part of the settlement, the Oblates also released the names of 12 priests against whom there were admitted or otherwise substantiated allegations of sexual abuse. All served at Salesianum at least once during their ministries, but their assignments included schools and parishes in Delaware City, Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania towns, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Uruguay, Ecuador and Mexico.

Bishop Michael Saltarelli had released a list of diocesan priests who had similar allegations against them in 2006. The Oblates had refused to release such a list until Thursday, though the names of their accused were revealed as lawsuits were filed.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.