Tuesday, November 12, 2013

St. Louis Archdiocese Paid $10 Million in 10 Years in Clergy Abuse, Misconduct Costs

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM

click to enlarge St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson
  • St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson

The St. Louis Archdiocese has paid $10 million in ten years in legal fees and victim payments associated with clergy misconduct, including sexual abuse, according to the church's annual financial report.

The Catholic Church in St. Louis paid $943,700 in abuse and misconduct costs in 2013, compared to $342,100 in 2012.

The costs recorded in a particular year don't necessarily come from cases filed or tried in that year, says chief financial officer Frank Chauvin.

"There is a time lag, a significant time lag, in some of these cases as to when we might get a recovery for the legal fees or payment to victims," Chauvin tells Daily RFT.

The official report of clergy misconduct costs - ST. LOUIS REVIEW
  • St. Louis Review
  • The official report of clergy misconduct costs

The church has faced several allegations of sexual abuse in the last fifteen years. In 1999, a jury awarded Henry Bachmann $1.2 million -- including nearly $500,000 in punitive damages, an unusually high figure -- after he sued priest James Gummersbach for sexual abuse. An appellate court overturned the verdict because the statute of limitations had expired.

See also: Parents Sue St. Louis Archdiocese, Father Bryan Kuchar Over Son's Alleged Rape, Suicide

Bryan Kuchar was convicted in 2003 of sexually abusing a teenage boy while the priest of Assumption Catholic Church in south St. Louis County. Priest Thomas Graham was convicted in 2005 of child sex crimes, but the verdict was later overturned.

The archdiocese is still facing a lawsuit against Archbishop Robert Carlson claiming he failed to protect a girl from being abused by another priest, Father Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang.

See also: St. Louis Archdiocese Cancels Event to Pray for "Exoneration" of Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

The archdiocese spent about $1 million more in payments to victims than in legal fees over the last ten years. In 2013, the church spent $395,300 in legal fees and $596,200 in victim payments.

The church has recovered about $5 million in insurance payments, mostly in reimbursement for legal fees, Chauvin says.

Because counseling fees have been recorded under clergy health-care costs since 2006, the cost is no longer included in the calculations of clergy misconduct.

The church has been publishing a ten-year table of misconduct costs since 2002.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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