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Heavenly Cash

Forbes Magazine by Daniel Lyons, 9 June 2003

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 • The Hit Men
A handful of lawyers turn child sexual abuse into big business.
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Emboldened by the rich settlements paid so far in the church scandals--in one case a few years ago a Dallas jury awarded $119 million to a mere dozen victims, though the sum later was haggled down to a still-rich $33 million--lawyers are filing ever more brazen complaints. Among them:

* In Louisville, Ky. the Catholic archdiocese is being sued by a former topless dancer, who claims that 20 years ago, when she was 22 and living in Reno, Nev., a priest there asked her creepy questions about sex and kissed her. She argues the Louisville archdiocese received similar complaints about the priest and was negligent when it transferred him to Reno.

* Also in Louisville, a man claims that nearly 40 years ago, when he was 16 years old, while he was fully dressed and in his mother's presence, a priest jokingly spanked him on the rear end and made a fleeting grab for his genitals. The plaintiff says this traumatized him; never mind that in a deposition he also admits that he was molested and sodomized by his uncle.

* The law firm of Resnikoff & Viscio lost a case on behalf of two women who sued the diocese in Rockville Centre, N.Y. Then it learned the diocese later awarded the women $300,000--and it is now suing the Church for a $100,000 cut.

* In Boston a 55-year-old man says he was sexually abused by his father when he was a preschooler and by a priest when he was 9. That isn't why he is suing; he's suing the archdiocese because, from age 20 to 26, he allegedly had a sexual relationship with the Rev. Paul Shanley, the priest named in Roderick MacLeish's flagship case.

* In Manchester, N.H. a 24-year-old man received a $200,000 settlement from the Catholic diocese in 2000 and blew through the money in a few months. So last year he sued to get more, arguing that when he signed the earlier agreement he had no lawyer, was mentally unstable and was drinking heavily. The new complaint was settled in April but terms weren't disclosed.

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