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Diocese Settles In Abuse Case

The Dallas Catholic Diocese has reached a $23.4 million settlement with the remaining plaintiffs in sexual abuse lawsuits involving former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos.

"The litigation has now come to an end," Bishop Charles V. Grahmann said in a formal announcement Friday.

Eight former altar boys, along with three others, received a $119.6 million judgment from a Dallas County civil jury a year ago. It was the largest judgment ever against a diocese.

The other three plaintiffs settled last spring for $7.5 million. Friday's settlement also included a ninth plaintiff not involved in the civil trial.

Grahmann said the diocese would pay $7.25 million of the settlement, with the rest paid by its insurance carriers.

Three other plaintiffs involved in the civil trial settled last spring for $7.5 million.

"This settlement brings closure to a long period of sadness for all of us. There are no simple solutions when confronting terrible acts such as those inflicted by Rudy Kos," Grahmann said in a prepared statement.

Grahmann also said the diocese has taken steps to reduce the risk of sexual abuse in the church, including review boards to handle assignment of clergy and complaints, and background checks of employees and volunteers.

"It is our hope and expectation that the sexual abuse risk audit and the countermeasures that will be implemented because of this audit will become a necessary model for abuse prevention," said the plaintiff's attorney Windle Turley.

At at separate news conference at Turley's office, his clients said they accepted the bishop's apology and that it should bring closure to the episode.

"This is a day of relief for everybody. Finding out that the bishop has apologized for the wrongdoing helps us get on with our lives. Today is just a great day," said Nathan Nichols, 19, of Ennis and one of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs said they intend to develop a Web site to serve as a clearinghouse for information on institutional sexual abuse.

Kos is serving a life sentence in state prison for molesting four altar boys while a priest in Irving and Ennis. The Vatican this week barred him from ever serving in a ministerial role.

The diocese had said it could not pay the full judgment. In court papers filed last year, the diocese said it had less than $1 million in cash and about $6 million in total assets. Those numbers did not include churches and schools, which the diocese has said are held in trust for individual parishes.