Editorial: Gallup Diocese re-abuses victims with settlement
Friday, July 22nd, 2016 at 12:02am
From the Link: http://www.abqjournal.com/812414/gallup-diocese-reabuses-victims-with-settlement.html
The Diocese of Gallup drives a hard bargain – one in which truth is a casualty.
In the case of the $21 million settlement to victims of priest sexual abuse it’s a deal that essentially re-abuses the victims by making them fear they might lose their hard-fought settlements if they reveal details of their abuse. In one case, a victim was so afraid of court sanctions he did not dare to look at the one record that pertained to his abuse.
The court-approved settlement agreement allows a victim just a one-time “eyes only” access to a single file pertaining to that victim’s abuser. It strictly prohibits sharing or duplicating the password-protected electronic contents, which will be destroyed after a year.
The diocese threatened to withdraw the settlement when attorneys for the victims sought to have the church publicly release personnel files of accused priests.
Such a bully tactic certainly seems to indicate a lack of contrition. But it appears to be business as usual for the church, whose leadership for years kept hidden from its faithful members the abuse visited on innocent children by some clergy.
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, whose areas of oversight includes the Gallup Diocese and who has said he won’t tolerate abuse, should use his influence to correct this poor treatment of past victims.
The church routinely stakes out what it believes is the high moral ground on issues ranging from abortion to immigration to end of life. That’s not the case when it comes to the past misdeeds of its clergy and the impact on finances. Its position on these records shows that maintaining secrecy about abuse and how it was handled are its top priorities.