Catholic Church begs 4 rape victims with N9.9 billion naira settlement.
The Catholic Church has agreed to an out of court payment of N2,473,200,000 (Two billion Four Hundred Million and Two Hundred Thousand Naira) each to four former pupils as compensation and settlement for sexual abuses by former Catholic religion teacher, Angelo Serrano.
Four men who repeatedly suffered sexual abuse from Mr. Serrano, their Catholic catechism teacher at the little parish of St Lucy-St Patrick, Brooklyn, between 2003 and 2009 agreed to receive a settlement amount of N2,473,200,000 (Two billion, four hundred and seventy three million, two hundred thousand Naira) each. The largest settlement amount ever awarded to any individual victims of sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic church.
The victims, who are now between the ages of 19 and 21, have requested that their identities be withheld.
Bishopaccountability.org, which tracks clergy sexual abuse says the highest individual settlement figure, hitherto, stood at $11,450,000.00 (N4.122 billion Naira).
The Brooklyn diocese, in an attempt to absolve itself, posited that the accused, “Mr. Serrano was a volunteer worker at a local parish; he was not clergy or an employee of the diocese or parish”, and that an offense committed in his private apartment canot make the church guilty in the matter.
But, the victims lawyers were quick to puncture the church’s defense by establishing that Mr. Serrano had a desk on the school property, resumed there everyday, and also got stipends from the school.
According to one of the victims’ lawyers, Ben Rubinowitz, the church agreed to the settlement after a priest who was also embroiled in the abuse case confessed to have caught Mr. Serrano kissing a child on the mouth but never reported the incident.
Two priests of the church, as at the time the abuse occurred at the parish, Rev. Stephen P. Lynch and the Rev. Frank Shannon, were also named as co defendants.
The settlement is happening in the thick of an upturn in the spate of investigations (including a New York state civil investigation), revelations of attempts by the church to conceal cases of sexual abuse and outright ‘neglect of younger ones’, of which the supreme pontiff, Pope Francis also admitted to be guilty.