Associated Press, 08/12/98 00:55
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A woman who claims her son was abused as a child by a
priest wants her day in court, and she's going to get it.
While another family with similar claims has agreed to an out-of-court
settlement, a $16 million civil lawsuit will begin Monday in state Supreme
``I didn't want the money because the money would have silenced me,'' the
mother said. ``I want people to realize what has happened to this family.''
Both cases against the Rev. Daniel W. Casey Jr. had been on the verge of being
settled just before a scheduled trial in July, but the family going ahead with
the suit balked at signing the settlement because the agreement said the priest
and church had done nothing wrong.
``Let's just say the settlement was unsatisfactory,'' said the father, who
alleges his then-11-year-old son was abused.
The other family apparently did not want to go to court and has accepted a cash
deal reportedly worth about $325,000, according to their lawyer. The attorney
for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, Paul Hanrahan, confirmed the
settlement but declined to comment further.
The twin lawsuits, which originally were filed separately but were scheduled to
be tried together, accused Casey of sexually abusing two brothers, then ages 10
and 12, in December 1987 in a shower room at the State University of New York
at Oswego, and of molesting the 11-year-old between August 1988 and January
The boys claimed that Casey touched and kissed them, disrobed and had them
remove their clothes in the shower room.
The families of the boys also accused St. Paul's Church, St. Paul's Elementary
School of Oswego and the Syracuse diocese of negligence, saying they did not
investigate Casey's background. The lawsuits claimed the parish and diocese had
known or should have known Casey posed a risk to children.
Casey was associate pastor at St. Paul's Church and was director of religious
instruction at the parish's elementary school at the time of the alleged abuse.
He has since resigned from the priesthood, the diocese said.
Mark David Blum, the attorney for the family proceeding to trial, referred to
the cash payment as an attempt by the church to buy the silence of victims.
Blum contends that high-ranking officials of the diocese were aware of problems
with Casey. Several witnesses are scheduled to testify that they had
conversations with Bishop Thomas Costello about Casey in which Costello
admitted knowing that the priest was a pedophile, Blum said.
State Supreme Court Justice William R. Roy signed an order last week
authorizing the testimony of one of those witnesses, Susan Sweet, after the
defense objected to her being called as a witness. In a July 10 videotaped
deposition, Sweet testified that she had at least three conversations with
Bishop Costello in which he admitted knowing about Casey having a problem with
``The Catholic Church knew this guy had a problem,'' Blum said. ``Instead of
dealing with it, they put everyone in the community at risk by cycling this
priest around instead of reporting him to the police.''
Sweet, a commissioned youth minister for the diocese, claimed in her testimony
that Costello said officials had tried to help Casey for 15 years without any
success. But in a May deposition Costello denied ever telling anyone the church
was aware of any problem.