Mediation Begins In Church Sex Abuse Suits
More Than 200 Plaintiffs Suing Archdiocese
TheLouisvilleChannel.com [Louisville KY]
Downloaded April 26, 2003
LOUISVILLE -- The early stages of mediation have begun between the Archdiocese of Louisville and a lawyer representing more than 200 plaintiffs suing it.
Both sides expressed their hopes to settle the lawsuits outside of court through negotiation, WLKY NewsChannel 32's John Charlton reported.
The mediator in these cases is former Federal Judge Nicolas Politan, a New Jersey native. He was present as attorney Bill McMurry and the archdiocese met for almost eight hours Wednesday, yielding enough optimism that both sides seem to believe they can work together to reach a settlement, Charlton reported.
"I'm more confident today than ever before," said McMurry, the attorney for 214 people suing the Louisville Archdiocese. He added that he believes the mess in the local Catholic church could be cleaned up by the end of June.
"The litigation process has been hard on my clients," he said. "Giving depositions has been as painful as reliving the events can be. We want for our clients the ability to stop that pain."
An alleged victim, Ray Wilberding, said that the alleged abuse has had long-term adverse effects.
"I didn't know if I was inferior or maybe not quite as good as everyone else," said Wilberding, the latest to file suit against the archdiocese. The priest he's accusing recently was removed from the ministry. Wilberding said he's glad the mediation process has begun.
"It's very embarrassing," he said. "I had to tell my daughter all of this (Tuesday). I never told before."
Archdiocese spokesman Dr. Brian Reynolds said that he's optimistic things will get settled.
"These people who were injured deserve our respect and assistance with healing, and that's what we're committed to doing," he said. "No child should ever have been abused. Everybody agrees mediation is the best methodology, so we have some strings we're building on and to build on that gives us momentum."
While the sides reached a consensus on several issues, McMurry said that if there's one thing that's still up for debate, it's money, Charlton reported. Reynolds said that the archdiocese's funds are not infinite. Consequently, the archdiocese has reduced expenditures, and enacted pay and hiring freezes.
Please follow WLKY NewsChannel 32 and TheLouisvilleChannel.com for updates to this story as they become available.
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