.- The Archdiocese of Denver has settled 15 cases of alleged sexual abuse by clergy through mediation, it was announced last week.
According to a press release from the independent mediators of the abuse cases, two law firms filed suits against the archdiocese, one from Minnesota and one from Florida. Florida lawyers Jeffery Herman and Adam Horowitz filed 19 cases. All 19 of their clients decided to come before the independent mediation panel. However, four decided not settle out of court and continue with the judicial process.
The settlements range from $30,000 to $150,000. The settlement payments made by the archdiocese total $1,585,000.
The Judicial Arbiter Group, who ran the mediation process, said the settlements would not have been possible without the “positive attitudes” of the lawyers, plaintiffs and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.
The archbishop met with 18 of the plaintiffs during the mediation process. During their meeting, the archbishop listened to the stories of plaintiffs and offered his apology for their pain. Mediation began in May 2006.
In addition to the 15 settlements reached through the mediation panel, three other individuals did not file a lawsuit but approached the archdiocese directly to have their claims considered, the archbishop said in a statement.
The independent mediation panel was led by the Honorable Richard Dana of the Judicial Arbiter Group in conjunction with Chief Heather Coogan of the Auraria Campus Police Department and John Dahlberg, a certified rehabilitation specialist.
The mediation outreach panel will remain available to address any other plaintiffs who may wish to have their claims evaluated, said the archbishop. He added that he will remain available to anyone who desires to discuss their own personal situation with him.
“Even though the childhood sexual abuse described in these lawsuits occurred decades ago,” Archbishop Chaput said, “we take seriously any allegation of sexual abuse, regardless of how old the claim. We deeply regret the suffering of any individual who has suffered childhood sexual abuse and we have a sincere desire to help any victim heal. We believe this successful mediation program further exemplifies our commitment to address this very serious issue.”