Hearings for alleged abuse victims seeking settlements from diocese begin Monday


    Retired State Supreme Court Justice Robert Lunn is presiding over the hearings and will decide if an alleged abuse victim receives a settlement and, if so, its sum (WHAM file photo)

    Rochester, N.Y. - Monday was a day of reckoning for the Rochester Catholic Diocese. Hearings began for alleged victims of clergy abuse seeking cash settlements from the diocese.

    Retired State Supreme Court Justice Robert Lunn was hired by the diocese to hear these claims and decide if a cash settlement is appropriate, and the amount.

    MORE - Exclusive: Retired justice's role in settlements between Diocese, alleged abuse victims

    Two alleged victims met with Justice Lunn Monday at his downtown law office. 24 people are, so far, scheduled to meet with him and make their claim.

    One man, who wishes to remain anonymous but shared his story with 13WHAM in August, waited 40 years for this day. He was both nervous about meeting with Justice Lunn, and hopeful.

    He says James Mulcahy, his religious educator instructor at St. Patrick’s in Mount Morris in 1977, sexually abused him starting when he was 11. 16 years later, he reported the alleged abuse to the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, but it was too late. The criminal statute had expired.

    RELATED: Multiple victims claim child sex abuse by Diocese of Rochester teacher

    Judge Lunn told 13WHAM no amount of money can make up for the damage done by sex abuse. In a previous interview, he told 13WHAM, “If a get the gut feeling a person is credible and telling the truth, I would be inclined to make an award."

    He says the settlements could include cash and counseling depending on what he thinks is appropriate. Justice Lunn says he expects to make his offers to victims about 30 days after meeting with them. His offer is final and non-negotiable. Victims must sign an agreement not to file suit in criminal or civil courts.

    When asked how much victims might expect to receive, Lunn directed 13WHAM to articles about the Buffalo Diocese, where similar hearings are already underway. The Buffalo News reports cash settlements to victims there have ranged from $400,000 to $40,000.

    The Rochester Diocese will pay victim settlements through a special insurance reserve fund. The Diocese confirms contributions from local parishes does help pay for the insurance premiums.

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