Victim Settles with Buffalo Diocese Over Alleged Priest Sex Assault

WGRZ NBC News 2, New York/August 16, 2012

Buffalo, New York -- An attorney for a woman who claimed a Buffalo priest sexually assaulted her says the woman and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo have come to a settlement.

Father Secundo Casarotto was removed from St. Anthony of Padua church in early January after an investigation into inappropriate contact with a female parishioner in 2009. The 70-year-old had been a priest there for more than 25 years.

Attorney Adam Horowitz announced the settlement with the Diocese of Buffalo and the Scalabrinians prior to the filing of a federal lawsuit.

Channel 2 News obtained a copy of the police report filed in June. In it, the alleged victim, who's in her 30s, says the sexual assault took place in the bedroom of the St. Anthony of Padua parish rectory in August of 2009.

The victim, who is being identified only as "Jane Doe," issued this statement:

To the People of Buffalo, parishioners of St. Anthony Padua, and of course victims of sexual abuse who have not found the courage to come forward and report your abuser:

I hope I have given you some strength to report it and seek therapy.

I decided to settle my case, but it does not make what happen to me right in any way. I hope a good lesson will have been learned from my situation. Things like this must be acted on promptly and taken seriously!

I too respected Father Secondo. However, he violated my mind and body at a time when I was most vulnerable and sought his guidance. As a Catholic I struggled very deeply, and the silence was killing me. The secret I had to hide from the people I loved most, hurt so much. Because of my catholic upbringing, I thought I could just forgive him, and move on. I was raised to respect adults, the elderly and priests especially. I was taught that they were holy men of God, however, after what the Father did to me, I learned he was no holy man. However, we do need to pray for him. I hope he gets some therapy, and realizes what he did to me and the other victim was totally wrong.

Today my spirituality has been greatly affected. I have a hard time believing priest anymore when they preach. I continue to have flashbacks of what happened to me. I believe that God himself did not do this to me, nor would want this to happen to me or any others. The bible clearly states God is against sexual assault. Sexual assault is a sin against god and victim. When the abuse first happened to me, I felt so numb. I felt like my power was taken from me. I am very thankful for my attorney Adam Horowitz for being there for me.

Just when I was about ready to give up, he took my call and assured me he would be with me every step of the way. I thank him for all his hard work and long hours working with me on this matter.

Also my counselor believed in me and therapy has been a very important part of my healing process. I don't have a secret anymore, I don't need to be silent, I can talk about it, and people believe in me. I wanted to press criminal charges but was not allowed to proceed. I cooperated 100%, but I was told I did not have enough evidence for a criminal prosecution. All I can say is another victim came forward after hearing my story. I think the system needs to start taking victims of sexual abuse more seriously. The system makes it too easy for victims not to want to come forward out of fear they will not be taking seriously, and in my mindwe let abusers continue to abuse again and again. The law did afford me to bring a civil suit forward. I needed to know that I myself did all I possibly could to bring more awareness of clergy abuse, and how much telling the truth really means!

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