Victim, archdiocese reach settlement in clergy sex abuse case

| August 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Aug. 20 reached a settlement in a clergy sex abuse case, the first settlement filed under Minnesota’s Child Victims Act.

The victim in the Doe 100 case was abused by Thomas Stitts in 1971.

Stitts was assigned as a priest at local parishes from 1962 until his death in 1985.

Last December, the archdiocese disclosed Stitts’ name and assignment history on its website and in The Catholic Spirit.

According to a statement from Bishop Andrew Cozzens, the settlement mediation involved attorneys for the victim and for the archdiocese, as well as the archdiocese’s vicar general, Father Charles Lachowitzer, who serves as Archbishop John Nienstedt’s chief of staff.

“We regret that the victim’s pleas for help were not heard earlier by the archdiocese,” Bishop Cozzens said in the Aug. 20 statement posted on the archdiocesan website. “We are grateful now that we were able to listen to Doe 100.”

Since the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, dioceses have not engaged in confidential settlements. However, the archdiocese isn’t disclosing the terms of the settlement out of deference to the victim.

Under Minnesota’s Child Victims Act, passed in 2013, lawmakers eliminated the civil statute of limitations for cases of past child sexual abuse, allowing anyone with a claim of abuse to file lawsuits for a three-year period regardless of how far back their claims date and regardless of whether the alleged abuser is deceased.

The Doe 100 case was slated to go to trial Dec. 15.

“The archdiocese apologizes for the harm suffered by abuse victim/survivors and their families and friends, and asks for forgiveness for the Church’s shameful failures of the past,” Bishop Cozzens said.

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