Diocesan News

Moral Obligation to Avoid Further Injury: Diocese Responds to Settlement Claims

Official Statement of the Diocese of Brooklyn

The press has incorrectly reported that the Diocese paid $27.5 million in regards to the abuse of four children by Mr. Serrano. The four plaintiffs are now adults. The Diocese’s insurance carriers paid $17.4 million of the settlement for all four plaintiffs. The balance was paid by the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center’s insurance carriers.

All the monies of the settlement were paid by insurance. The Diocese’s insurance carriers actually paid more than their fair share as the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center’s insurance coverage had a limit such that it could not cover the Center’s entire share.

It is important to emphasize that neither a priest nor other clergy abused any child, whether at the Parish or the Center. Neither did any employee of the Diocese or the Parish abuse any child at this Parish. Mr. Serrano was a volunteer.  While training had been provided to the Parish Pastors as well as all Parish employees and volunteers on a regular basis to enable them to recognize the signs of grooming, regrettably, these signs were apparently not recognized with regard to Mr. Serrano.

Mr. Serrano befriended the Pastors, the children’s parents and many others in the Parish. The Parish Pastors simply did not believe it was possible that a person who seemed so dedicated to helping others was capable of these terrible acts.  All of the children who stayed at Mr. Serrano’s apartment, where the majority of the abuse took place, did so with their parents’ permission.

The Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center on the other hand had received at least one complaint of inappropriateness. The Center deemed this complaint or complaints serious enough to ban Mr. Serrano from the Center.  However, the Center did not report it to any authorities though it was their obligation to do so. If they had done so, much of the pain for these children would have been avoided. The Center, to our knowledge, never told anyone at the Parish the reason Mr. Serrano was banned from the Center.

One may ask why the Diocese would settle for such a large sum in light of the Center’s failure to report to the authorities. After all, the Diocese’s share of the settlement was $17.4 million for four plaintiffs and that is a lot of money, even after attorney’s fees. The Church’s defense lawyers argued to let them take the case to a trial. They believed it was unlikely that a jury would have found the Diocese liable in this matter.  But a trial would have subjected these young men who had already suffered to even more suffering. While the Church had numerous defenses under our civil laws, it felt a moral obligation to avoid further injury to these plaintiffs.

– Brian Cosgove
Risk Manager, Parish Service Corporation
R.C. Diocese of Brooklyn

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2 thoughts on “Moral Obligation to Avoid Further Injury: Diocese Responds to Settlement Claims

  1. The diocese seems very fortunate to have insurance carriers who “paid more than their fair share.” I wonder how the shareholders of those carriers feel about that. Of course if the insurance carrier is an entity controlled by the church the payment of more than is called for by the policy would be a little more understandable.
    It would add to our understanding if the diocese would tell us if the carrier is a commercial insurance company or some type of self insurance entity. It would also be nice if we were told how much of a change there has been in the premiums for this coverage since the scandals started. That time might be hard to identify but a starting point might be just the current century to date.

  2. The diocese is very fortunate to have insurance carriers who “paid more than their fair share.” I only wish that insurers would be so generous more frequently. It is hard to believe that in our current times that such generosity exists. I, though not an experienced fact finder, have been told that insurers were not willing to write policies for this type of coverage. If the diocesan explanation is accurate then I was obviously given bad information because not only is coverage available, insurers are willing to pay more than they have to. The only question that remains is what type of premiums have to be paid to obtain this coverage and how have those premiums changed over the past 15 years.