A jury in Delaware on Wednesday awarded $30 million in compensatory damages to a man who said he was sexually abused more than 100 times by a Roman Catholic priest — the largest such award granted to a single victim in a clergy abuse case, victims’ advocates said.
In an unusual outcome, the jury decided that the parish where the abuse occurred, St. Elizabeth in Wilmington, must pay $3 million of the damages, while the perpetrator is liable for the rest. Parishes have previously been held liable in only one or two cases involving abuse by Catholic priests, according to records kept by an advocacy group for victims known as bishop accountability.org.
It is usually the diocese or the religious order, not the parish, that is held responsible for damages. But the Diocese of Wilmington, which covers all of Delaware, declared bankruptcy last year just as the lawsuit was going to trial, so this lawsuit as well as more than 100 pending lawsuits against the diocese was frozen.
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