Four men who said they were sexually abused as boys by a teacher at a Catholic church have reached a $27.5 million settlement with the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The New York Times reports Tuesday that the agreement is one of the largest settlements ever awarded to sexual abuse victims within the Catholic Church. The men will each receive about $6.8 million.
The settlement comes just two weeks after the New York attorney general subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of an investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations. A grand jury report this summer found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests in Pennsylvania.
“These were boys who were abused in second grade through sixth grade, for years for some of them,” said Ben Rubinowitz, one of the lawyers for the victims. “The egregious nature of the conduct is the reason that the church paid what they did.”
Lawyers for the victims say 67-year-old Angelo Serrano, a lay teacher of religion at St. Lucy’s-St. Patrick’s Church in Brooklyn, repeatedly abused the victims between 2003 and 2009. Serrano is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2011 to inappropriate course of sexual conduct with a child.
“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for these claimants,” the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement. “The Diocese remains committed to ensuring that its parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people who are entrusted to our care.”
The statement added that Serrano was a “volunteer worker” at a local parish and “was not clergy or an employee of the Diocese or parish”.
Since June 2017, 414 victims have applied for settlements through the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program in Brooklyn. Other dioceses in the state-run similar programs.
The latest settlement comes just two weeks after New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of an investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations.