EXCLUSIVE: Catholic Church settles 30 of 40 priest sex abuse lawsuits

EXCLUSIVE: Catholic Church settles 30 of 40 priest sex abuse lawsuits
Published: Jan. 29, 2016 at 11:08 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 29, 2016 at 11:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Roman Catholic Church has reached settlements in 30 lawsuits filed by people in Hawaii who claim they were sexually abused by priests decades ago when they were children.

They are among 63 people who have made abuse allegations against priests in 40 lawsuits, according to legal documents obtained by Hawaii News Now.

Some of the cases have been reported in the media, such as the 2012 lawsuit filed by Mark Pinkosh claiming two priests at St. Anthony Church in Kailua sexually abused him.

Pinkosh said when he told then-Father Joseph Ferrario that another priest had raped him, Ferrario told him to keep the incidents secret and then Ferrario raped him.  Ferrario, who is now deceased, went on to become the bishop of the Catholic Church in Hawaii.

Other cases have been kept quiet, with the plaintiffs listed as John or Jane Roe.

Hawaii News Now has learned that Pinkosh and 62 other alleged victims of priest sex abuse went to mediation last year with the Catholic Church to try to settle their 40 lawsuits.

Legal documents show the cases were filed mostly by men but by a few women as well.

At least 30 of the 41 lawsuits have been settled through three mediation periods, the last of which is scheduled to end next month, according to legal documents. The dollar amounts of the settlements are not yet known, but may be released in the future.

In a statement, the Very Reverend Gary Secor, the Catholic Church's Vicar General in Hawaii, said, "Words cannot express how truly sorry I am for the abuse children suffered at the hands of Catholic clergy and others."

Secor said the church "remains committed to compassionate resolution for those who were victims of abuse. In this spirit, we are doing our best to resolve these cases through mediation in hopes of preventing added distress for these victims, and to help bring healing through compassionate resolution."

Attorney Michael Green is representing some of the alleged victims.

"First of all, there has to be a reckoning. I mean they can't just get away with it," Green said.

While there are 63 people claiming to be sexual abuse victims in this grouping of cases, Green fears there are many more.

"We know you could probably multiply that by 50 or 100 that are out there that are so damaged that don't have the courage or the will to come forward," Green said.

All parties have agreed to keep the settlement dollar amounts secret until the final cases have been decided in mediation.

A Catholic Church spokeswoman said the church is allowing the plaintiffs to disclose the final dollar amounts if they want to.

Those alleged victims who are unable to reach settlements will be able to take their cases to trial.

According to the petition of special relief setting up the group mediation process, the lawsuits could easily have taken about five years.

"All the lawsuits have significant overlap in defendants, alleged abusers, locations of alleged abuse, time periods of alleged conduct and counsel," the petition said. "In view of the overlap, coordinated alternative dispute resolution across these cases would provide a just, efficient and economical way for all stakeholders to investigate whether a mediated settlement is possible."

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