A New York diocese is paying out one of the largest settlements ever awarded to individual victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
The Brooklyn Diocese will split $27.5 million between four boys abused by church staffer Angelo Serrano between 2003 and 2009. The boys were raped in the church, in Serrano’s apartment behind the church and during an after-school program where Serrano worked as a teacher. The boys were all between the ages of 8 and 12 at the time of the abuse, The New York Times reports.
“This is an extremely large settlement, and the size of the settlement has to be an indication of the severity of the abuse, and also of the pressure that the Catholic Church is under,” BishopAccountability.org co-director and president Terry McKiernan told TheNYT.
The victims, now between the ages of 19 and 21, will receive nearly $6.9 million each from the settlement.
“These were boys who were abused in second grade through sixth grade, for years for some of them,” Ben Rubinowitz, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told TheNYT. “The egregious nature of the conduct is the reason that the church paid what they did.”
Serrano pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse in 2011. Rev. Frank Shannon and Rev. Stephen Lynch are priests who served at St. Lucy-St. Patrick Catholic Church in Clinton Hill, which is now closed and where the abuse happened, and knew about the ongoing abuse, but neither stopped it, according to The New York Daily News.
“Lynch and Shannon had knowledge that for years Serrano often had several boys … sleep over at his apartment,” Justice Loren Baily-Schiffman wrote in the court’s ruling, according to The New York Daily News. “The record in this case at bar is replete with evidence of Serrano’s inappropriate behavior with sexual implications that continued for years even after he was told to stop.”
The settlement comes as the Catholic Church continues to face the fallout from a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found that more than 1,000 children and young adults were sexually abused by more than 300 priests across six dioceses. The report spanned seven decades prior to 2002 when the church implemented widespread reforms meant to put a stop to sexual abuse by church staffers and leaders. (RELATED: Grand Jury Report Details Decades Of Child Abuse By Hundreds Of Accused ‘Predator Priests’)
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