Four men who were victim to horrific child sex abuse by their Catholic religion teacher were awarded a hefty $27.5million settlement by the Diocese of Brooklyn on Tuesday.
The diocese agreed to the pay each of the unnamed victims – who were lured into sleepovers and repeatedly raped by their religion teacher, Angelo Serrano, 67, when they were ages 8 through 12 between 2003 and 2009 – a sum of $6,875,000 each.
Serrano had been working as a religion teacher at St. Lucy’s-St. Patrick’s Church in Brooklyn at the time he abused his young male students.
The disturbing abuse took place inside the church – which has since been shut down – as well as a nearby school building and Serrano’s apartment at the time, attorneys for the victims said.
Serrano was finally arrested for the child sex crimes in September 2009 after a mother to one of the victims reported him to police.
In 2011, Serrano pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual conduct.
He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, a multi-security level prison located in Beacon.
Reverend Frank Shannon and the Reverend Stephen Lynch were co-defendants in the sex abuse case, and had knowledge about the sick incidents.
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Loren Baily-Schiffman wrote in a court statement: ‘The record is clear that Lynch and Shannon, had knowledge for years that Serrano often had several boys, including plaintiff, sleep over at his apartment.’
One of the priests testified that he witnessed Serrano kiss and inappropriately touch a young boy, according to The New York Times.
Church secretary Beatrice Ponnelle also testified that she saw male students sit on Serrano’s lap while working on homework at times.
The diocese said in a statement that its administration and ‘another defendant have [agreed to settle] these lawsuits brought by the four claimants.’ The statement went on to say that another defendant would contribute ‘a significant portion’ of the money.
President of BishopAccountability.org, Terry McKiernan, told The Times the settlement figure is astounding and speaks volumes about the cruelty of the case.
‘This is an extremely large settlement,’ McKiernan said.
‘The size of the settlement has to be an indication of the severity of the abuse and also of the pressure that the Catholic Church is under.’
Bishop Accountability reportedly keeps track of sex abuse cases within the Roman Catholic Church.
An attorney for one of the victims, Ben Rubinowitz, also said: ‘The egregious nature of the conduct is the reason that the church paid what they did.
‘These were boys who were abused in second grade through sixth grade, for years for some of them.’
The good news comes two weeks after the state of New York and New Jersey launched a probe into the handling of clergy sex abuse claims.
It also comes after a grand jury report found more than 1,000 children were victims to sex abuse by Pennsylvania priests.
The incidents were said to have begun as early as the 1940’s.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jessa Schroeder