July 09, 2005

Church to pay millions in deal

Mercury News

By Brandon Bailey
Mercury News

Closing a major chapter in one of the Bay Area's most notorious cases of clergy sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic church will pay more than $16 million to 12 men who were molested in the 1970s by a popular San Jose priest.

The agreement came as attorneys were preparing for a trial next week, in which one of the men was expected to testify that the late Rev. Joseph Pritchard abused him at St. Martin of Tours parish in San Jose -- and in the rectory of a Los Altos church after Pritchard moved to a new assignment there. More trials were scheduled to follow.

While the settlement works out to an average of $1.3 million for each plaintiff, attorneys said the individual amounts varied and would not be disclosed. It is roughly comparable to a similar agreement reached last month with 10 other plaintiffs who said they also were molested by Pritchard when he was pastor at St. Martin of Tours.

``It was a particularly appalling case. So many families, friends and neighbors in this very loyal and hard-working parish were damaged by Pritchard,'' said Richard Simons, an attorney for plaintiffs in the settlement announced Friday.

Posted by kshaw at July 9, 2005 08:49 AM