Church abuse case settled for $3.3M

Agreement between Santa Rosa diocese, Placer County woman is the largest yet for a female victim

The Alameda Times/April 23, 2005

Oakland -- A Placer County woman will receive $3.3 million from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa under the terms of a settlement announced Friday in a priest sex abuse case.

Attorneys for the woman, Roberta Saum, said the settlement is the largest yet for a female abuse victim. The case was one of about 160 priest sex abuse cases in Northern California -- called Clergy III -- that are being overseen by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw.

Saum, 44, of Gold Run, said she was a troubled youngster who turned to the Catholic Church for guidance at age 15 and instead found herself victimized by a priest for the next six years.

While the sexual relationship with Don Kimball, then a priest at Resurrection Church, ended when Saum was 21, she said emotional manipulation continued for 20 years. Kimball is no longer a priest.

"This settlement gives me closure and vindication of what happened to me," said Saum, flanked by her husband and attorney at a news conference announcing the settlement on the steps of Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.

Bishop Daniel F. Walsh of the Santa Rosa diocese was also satisfied with the settlement, according to a diocese statement.

"With this settlement, we reaffirm our commitment to provide just and reasonable compensation to the victims of past abuse, to do all we can to forward the process of healing and reconciliation and to ensure that such tragic acts are never repeated again," Walsh said.

The statement said Saum's case was "one of the worst" facing the diocese. With the settlement, diocese attorneys are hopeful they can expedite settlements in nine other pending cases.

About 50 of the Clergy III cases involve the Diocese of Oakland. In one of the cases, an Alameda County jury awarded $1.93 million to two brothers who were abused by an Antioch priest more than 20 years ago.

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