The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales agreed on Aug. 4 to pay $24.8 million to settle lawsuits with 39 victims of clerical sex abuse in Delaware.
“I am sorry in the name of all Oblates for anything that an Oblate has done to violate a trust or to harm a person,” said Father James Greenfield, head of the Oblates’ Wilmington-Philadelphia province.
As part of the settlement, the Oblates – whose local staff work in schools and other ministries in several East Coast states – also agreed to release the names the 12 members identified as child molesters and to disclose their personnel files.
“An Oblate of St. Francis de Sales everywhere in the world understands the absolute importance of child protection,” Fr. Greenfield told the Associated Press on Thursday.
The priest added that the agreement ends the litigation against the order as well the Catholic High school Salesianum School run by the Oblates in Wilmington, Delaware.
Attorney for the Oblates Mark Reardon told the AP that the most recent abuse incident occurred more than 20 years ago.
He expressed the “sheer relief” of his clients that that the lawsuits were over. Reardon also noted that the East Coast province will share “lessons learned” with the other provinces worldwide.
The settlement comes after the Diocese of Wilmington’s bankruptcy reorganization plan was recently approved by a local judge. The plan is based on a separate $77 million settlement with about 150 victims of priest sex abuse, including 37 of the 39 plaintiffs who also sued the Oblates.
In agreeing to the settlement, the Oblates released the names of 12 members with admitted or substantiated abuse allegations. Only four are still alive and have been removed from ministry, while the remaning eight have already died.
Two of the accused live at an Oblate retirement facility in Maryland, and the other two are at an Oblate facility in Washington, D.C.
Fr. Greenfield noted that all four are monitored and supervised.