From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Diocese releases financial details regarding costs of sexual abuse suits

by Michael Miller, for the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 16, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

There have been a number of questions raised from parishioners about the overall costs the diocese has paid on behalf of either financial support of victims or legal fees defending cases against priests and/or the diocese, alleging sexual abuse.

First, it needs to be stated that since 1985 there have been six lawsuits filed and settled. All settlement monies, with the exception of $5,000 paid towards counseling in one of the cases, have been either paid by insurance and/or by the accused priest himself. These settlements include nondisclosure agreements. Revealing details would therefore be a violation of those agreements. What can be said, however, is that all previous settlements - the six lawsuits involved eight victims – resulted in an average settlement $60,000 per victim.

So what other costs have been paid over the years?

It is the diocese’s policy to retain financial records for seven years. As a result, there is only data for the last seven years. We know there were some monies paid out before this period, but we do not have any exact record of the amounts. It is estimated that they are not large sums.

Over the period of the last seven years, concluding on Dec. 31, 2002, the diocese has paid out a total of $62,439.37. These costs can be organized into three categories: counseling, medical reimbursement and legal fees.

Counseling fees are usually paid directly to the doctor. Monies paid for counseling over this seven-year period was $36,455.25. There have been no restrictions on this, other than the alleged victimization must have occurred from a priest in the Spokane Diocese. If this restriction is met, then the expense is paid with no questions asked.

The next area is that of medical costs. Most of these costs are related to unreimbursed prescriptions. The amount paid for this category over the last seven years is $19,100.12. All of this has been paid within the last two years.

The final category of expenses is costs for legal fees, defending the diocese in lawsuits as a result of allegations against some priests. To date, these costs total $6,384. It is expected that these costs will be reimbursed from our insurance carriers.

Summary of Lawsuits
Since 1985

• 6 lawsuits
• 8 plaintiffs
• $60,000 average settlement

Summary of Costs
July 1, 1995-Dec. 31, 2002
• Counseling: $36,455.25
• Medical: $19,100.12
• Legal: $6,384
• Other: $500

(Michael Miller is the Bishop’s Secretary for Diocesan Business Affairs.)

Inland Register archives

© The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved