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Verdicts & Settlements

Settlement Reached in New York Regarding Clergy Sex Abuse Cases

— May 1, 2024

New York’s AG and the Diocese of Brooklyn have reached a settlement agreement addressing clergy sex abuse allegations.

Sadly, allegations against priests in sex abuse cases are nothing new. This has been an ongoing problem in many places, and part of the concern stems from the perception of a lack of transparency on the part of the Catholic church. Without providing information to everyone who may have been impacted by abuse regarding who has been accused and if and when they have been removed from their position, the end result tends to be more questions than answers.

Recent news from New York State signals a change in the way these cases are handled and what information is going to be made available to the public. Although a single settlement to reform the system isn’t necessarily going to solve all of the abuse cases, it should be a notable step in the right direction.

There are a number of notable changes included in this settlement that will make for a significant difference as compared to how these matters have been handled previously. As a starting point, there will be a secular monitor appointed for oversight in these cases as a way to improve transparency. The general public has not always felt like there was sufficient transparency in how these cases are managed by the Catholic church, so the presence of a monitor should improve that situation.

Settlement Reached in New York Regarding Clergy Sex Abuse Cases
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

Along those same lines, there are now going to be public notices issued by the Diocese of Brooklyn when certain events occur, such as the removal of accused clergy. Also, the diocese will maintain a list of offenders and use that list to inform their former parishes of the situation and offer support to parishioners.

This new settlement with the state comes more than two decades after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a set of policies that was aimed at improving how such cases were handled internally. An investigation into how that national charter has performed found that there was a consistent failure to follow the guidelines that it had set out. There were indications of delayed actions against priests who had been accused, slow disclosures to the public, and inconsistent standards being applied. The diocese has issued an apology as a result of its failings with regard to these types of cases and has pledged to do better moving forward, in part by agreeing to the terms of this settlement.

Increased transparency is always a good thing when it comes to protecting victims and making sure everyone has access to the information they need to make a good decision. The massive size of the Catholic church, and the ongoing problems with sexual abuse, have made this a particularly difficult problem to tackle to provide people who are at risk – particularly, young people – with the right protections. Hopefully, this settlement in the State of New York will be a positive development that leads to even more improvements in the future.


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