Diocese to Sell Watch Hill Property for Settlement Money

By Richard C. Lewis
Associated Press, carried in [Providence RI]
May 15, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) The Diocese of Providence is selling its valuable oceanfront property on Watch Hill to help finance a more than $14 million settlement with alleged victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

Diocese spokeswoman Karen Davis confirmed Thursday that Watch Hill was on the market, but she would not disclose potential buyers or a possible sale price.

"We are giving no more information until the deal is done, and the papers are signed," Davis said.

Several months ago, the diocese agreed to pay $14.25 million to settle claims made by 37 sexual abuse victims, in cases that dated back to 1993. The diocese has set aside $15 million, mostly funded through bank loans, to pay the litigants, according to its annual report for last fiscal year.

Church officials said in December that the diocese was appraising eight to 10 properties that could be sold to help pay for its legal debts.

The Watch Hill property, a bishop's summer residence in a Westerly neighborhood, has been appraised at $4 million, diocese officials said in December.

Officials have said they're also looking at possibly selling land near the famed Aldrich Mansion in Warwick. The mansion is not for sale, however.

Diocese officials have said the number of properties sold would depend on the total settlement cost and how much the church recoups from insurance companies for legal cost reimburs dioements and other expected revenue.


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