October 15, 2005

Plaintiff seeks 13 seperate trials in priest abuse cases

Rutland Herald

October 15, 2005

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Herald Staff

The lawyer who has filed 13 priest misconduct lawsuits against the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington told a judge Friday he wants each tried separately.

Jerome O'Neill has filed civil lawsuits in Burlington's Chittenden Superior Court on behalf of 13 clients charging five former Vermont priests with child sexual abuse.

Judge Ben Joseph, in a hearing Friday, asked O'Neill if he wanted to consolidate the charges into one lawsuit. O'Neill said no.

"We think the cases are sufficiently different that consolidating is not an option," the lawyer said after the hearing.

O'Neill, chairman of the Burlington Police Commission and a former federal prosecutor, has a track record of winning such individual cases. The lawyer compelled the diocese to settle one priest misconduct case last year for a $150,000 cash payment — the largest such agreement in state history — and another for $120,000.

Posted by kshaw at October 15, 2005 07:20 AM