DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque will pay $5.2 million to 26 people who have claimed clergy sex abuse, according to a settlement announced Wednesday.
Archbishop Michael Jackels and Archbishop Emeritus Jerome Hanus apologized in a statement to the victims and their families, and expressed hope that the settlement will be supportive of them.
"They assure all the victims of their prayers for them and their families," said a statement from Sister Carol Hoverman, the communications director for the archdiocese.
The statement said priests who abused are a "disgrace to the vocation and a scandal to the faithful."
"The vast majority of priests are good and holy servants of God and God's people," said the statement.
The cases involve 10 priests and alleged abuse between the 1940s and 1970s. None of the accused clergy work as priests today, and most are dead.
The settlement is the fourth of its kind in nine years. Other settlements were reached in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and totaled more than $12 million.
That means the archdiocese has now paid more than $17 million in more than 80 claims of clergy sex abuse. An additional 10 claims were settled on a case-by-case basis for undisclosed amounts. The Dutton law firm in Waterloo has represented a bulk of the cases.
"We've been working on this project for nearly 10 years, and we've been able to foster a lot of healing for a lot of folks," said attorney Chad Swanson. "I think it's been a long time coming, particularly with this latest group."
Swanson said the money was divided among victims according to the nature and extent of the abuse.
Hanus wrote a personal letter of apology to the victims before he retired earlier this year, and he offered to meet with them privately. Counseling sessions were offered to victims and their spouses.
The newspaper reported that archdiocesan officials said the number of new claims has tapered off in recent years. Swanson also said he is currently not working on additional abuse claims involving the archdiocese.
"I'm not sure if it truly represents the end" of abuse claims, he said. "We probably won't know for several years. There's been a considerable decline in the number of cases coming to our attention more recently, so I do suspect we're reaching some sort of point where the story is closing."
However, Steve Theisen, Iowa director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he believes there may be more cases. He urged victims or witnesses of child sex abuse to come forward.
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