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Rhode Island: Catholic Church Admits Massive Sex Abuse Settlements to State Lawmakers

Trying to ward off Rhode Island lawmakers, officials from the Catholic Diocese of Providence have acknowledged settling more than $21 million in clergy sex abuse claims.

The total amount, writes the Providence Journal, includes $21 million set aside for “legal settlements” and another $2.3 million reserved for counseling.  In total, the archdiocese has attempted to resolve some 130 claims of abuse in its church-run schools and parishes.

The Journal notes that the diocese reported the payouts in written testimony submitted to the Rhode Island Catholic Conference and filed with the House Judiciary Committee for presentation at last Tuesday’s hearing on impending legislation.

Survivors also shared their stories, some in graphic detail.

Ann Hagan Webb, a 66-year old psychologist and sister of the Rhode Island lawmaker who introduced the legislation, identified the late Monsignor Anthony DeAngelis as a prolific and brutal predator.

“Usually we save ourselves, and you, the pain by using generalities like ‘child abuse’ or ‘molestation’ and leave it at that,” Webb said. “It’s time to rip the scab off.”

Her testimony included claims of DeAngelis raping her with a crucifix and forcing her to perform oral sex. She says the abuse took place repeatedly and over a seven-year period, beginning when she was kindergarten.

Sponsored by Webb’s sister and co-sponsored by most of the state’s House representatives, the bill extends the time victims of child sex abuse have to file lawsuits against predators and perpetrators’ employers. Previously granted seven years of leniency, the proposal would boost the cap to thirty-five.

Despite the church’s attempts at transparency, the Providence Journal notes its reports’ shortcomings. While the Conference acknowledged its settlements, it didn’t specify when or within which time period the alleged abuse occurred. Neither did it indicate the extent of victimization or name the priests accused.

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