May 17, 2005

Allegations against 3 priests costly for Diocese of Orange

Orange County Register

The Orange County Register

Nearly half of the $100 million in sexual- abuse settlements paid by the Diocese of Orange earlier this year went to plaintiffs who named one of three once-beloved priests as an abuser, court records show.

The three are Siegfried Widera, Eleuterio Ramos and Michael Harris.

The diocese settled with 11 men who claimed abuse by Ramos; nine who claimed abuse by Widera; and nine who claimed abuse by Harris. In three of the nine Harris cases, a church layman was also accused.

Settlements in those 29 cases totaled $46.78 million, according to a court order filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The settlements by the church release it from liability but are not a legal judgment of guilt or innocence.

In 2001 the diocese settled with one of Harris' accusers for $5.2 million. In the 1990s it reached confidential settlements with two of Ramos' accusers. Ramos and Widera are now dead.

Posted by kshaw at May 17, 2005 07:06 AM