Frustration, then relief as two sides strike deal in San Diego abuse settlement

Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego
Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego


The Diocese of San Diego came to a $198.1-million settlement with 144 alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests and church staff. The average payout will be $1.38 million per person making it the second largest payout to date. The diocese and its insurance carrier, Catholic Mutual, will pay the bulk.

The settlement was announced Friday morning, after an eight-hour marathon mediation session the day before.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs locked horns in a federal courtroom on Thursday, arguing among each other over what their clients should receive, reported the Union-Tribune.

Magistrate Judge Leo Papas, who has led the mediation sessions since June, sent the lawyers home to sleep on it. They returned at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and hammered out the remaining details by 11:30 a.m.

The decision on Friday ended four years of legal fighting.

Guy Lowry, 48, who said he was repeatedly sodomized while in a Catholic orphanage when he was a boy, told the Union-Tribune that the local bishop’s cooperation was crucial to getting the settlement finalized.

According to Lowry, Papas called Bishop Robert Brom and got him directly involved in negotiations, which were being supervised by diocese in-house counsel Micheal Webb.

Lowry filed his lawsuit was filed in 2003, when California temporarily waived the statute of limitations for these kinds of sexual abuse claims. He was later selected by Lowry to be on the creditors' committee and represent all the victims before a federal bankruptcy judge.

Lowry added that he was impressed with Bishop Brom's televised apology Friday afternoon and said he believed the bishop was being sincere.
Fr. John Dolan, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Chula Vista, addressed another often overlooked aspect of the sex abuse scandal, saying that the entire priesthood should not be punished for the sins of a few. “Pray for the priests of this diocese.” “They are good men,” said Fr. Dolan.

He asked for prayers for the victims and asked people to pray for themselves, to stay strong in their faith despite the turmoil.