Hartford Archdiocese has paid $50M to settle abuse claims

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford has paid $50.6 million to settle priest sexual abuse claims dating back several decades, church officials said Tuesday.

The archdiocese, which also published a list of clergy members credibly accused of abuse, is the latest to provide a fresh accounting since a startling grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania brought renewed attention to the church’s sex abuse scandal.

“I ask — the Church must ask — for forgiveness from those who have been victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, and from their parents, siblings and friends,” Archbishop Leonard Blair said in a written settlement. “Healing and reconciliation continue to be an essential but not easy goal, given the terrible effects that these sins and crimes can cause in the lives of victims, to whom the Church owes the deepest expression of sorrow and apology.”

The archdiocese said it has settled 142 claims involving 32 clergy members. It paid out $24.5 million from its general reserve fund and insurance recoveries covered the rest of the cost of the settlements. It said 98 percent of the settlements paid were over allegations of abuse of minors that occurred before 1990.

A total of 36 priests from the Hartford diocese have been credibly accused of abuse, according to church officials, who said 23 are now deceased and none are currently still priests.

Dioceses around the country have been reckoning anew with the sexual abuse scandal since the Pennsylvania investigation last August identified nearly 300 “predator priests” and accused church leaders of covering up for the abuses, in some cases by returning priests to duty after short stays in treatment centers or reassigning them.

In October, the Diocese of Bridgeport disclosed that it had paid $52.5 million to settle allegations of priest sexual abuse.

The Hartford archdiocese said it is hiring a former Connecticut state judge, Antonio Robaina, to investigate church records dating to 1953 for any further credible allegations.