|By Jeremy Hay, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
An attorney for the victim attributed the settlement's size partly to the church's failure to protect children from the Rev.
"But for the diocese's actions, it is entirely possible that this 12-year-old boy would never have been molested," said
"When the diocese became aware of this most recent allegation, they removed Father Oswald from ministry and reported the situation to civil authorities," O'Neel said. "The diocese could not do more than the civil authorities could."
The settlement, announced late Tuesday, resolves the last known such case against the diocese, O'Neel said.
In a statement, Vasa apologized to the boy and other victims who suffered at the hands of pedophiles in the church.
"I humbly apologize to this young person on behalf of the Church that failed to protect them. I also take this occasion to apologize to all victims for the harm done to them. This perversity, though prevalent in all parts of society, was allowed to persist in the Church for too long," Vasa said.
The diocese, which serves about 160,000 Catholics from
"Offhand, I can think of a couple of settlements higher, but I suspect that there haven't been many," said
A 2008 lawsuit involving two other Oswald victims -- who were abused between 1988 and 1995 -- was settled by the
The diocese paid out
Tuesday's statement issued by the diocese was striking for the degree to which it conceded Oswald's guilt, which the diocese had not done in the 2009 settlement involving the priest.
Its first sentence was: "
Vasa said in the statement: "The settlement involves a lot of money. It does not, however, restore peace and tranquility to this child of God. I pray this can come in time."
The diocese did not reveal financial terms. Daley, the victim's attorney, disclosed the amount.
The money will be paid primarily from insurance reserves, according to the diocese. The settlement will not affect existing ministries and none of the funds will come from the diocese's Capital Campaign or Annual Ministries Appeal, O'Neel said.
Daley said his client was molested in 2010. By that time, he said, church officials already knew Oswald had abused other children.
"The church was on notice that Father Oswald was a child molester well before my child was ever abused," Daley said.
Daley filed the lawsuit in 2013, five years after the first lawsuit accusing Oswald of molesting children. The case, he said, included letters from then-Bishop
While pressuring Oswald to resign, the diocese had allowed him to remain a priest, Daley said. Although it forced him out of parish housing, the diocese approved his new home a mile from
The youth was an altar boy and a student at the parish school. He also participated in a youth group led by Oswald, according to the lawsuit. Some of the abuse, which involved plying the boy with alcohol and repeatedly groping him over a two-month period, took place in the church, Daley said.
Asked if Vasa's statement referring to Daley's client and other victims -- that "the church failed to protect them" -- was an acknowledgment that the diocese had any responsibility in the case, O'Neel said, "People will draw from it whatever they're going to draw from it."
In the statement, Vasa said the diocese has policies and procedures in place to deal with reports of sexual abuse but that "everyone in every parish and every school needs to cooperate with them" to ensure children's safety.
"Sadly, evil will still occur, but it will not ever be tolerated," he said.
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