February 02, 2005

Diocese costs rising in defense against sex abuse allegations

East Valley Tribune

By Gary Grado, Tribune
The cost of defending lawsuits against priests sent behind bars for sex offenses keeps rising for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

Since December 2002, when the first of eight priests was indicted after a yearlong investigation, at least 14 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese alleging sexual misconduct.

The latest involves Monsignor Dale Fushek, pastor of St. Timothy Catholic Community in Mesa. On Friday, the Rev. Karl LeClaire became the third priest to plead guilty and to be sentenced for his crimes.

Diocese officials refuse to disclose how much they are paying the private law firms defending the cases, but insist their finances are in good shape.

"The diocesan resources and insurance resources are sufficient to resolve these cases," said Mike Haran, diocesan attorney. Insurance will cover some of the cases, but not all, he added.

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2005 06:56 AM