October 13, 2003

Kentucky Diocese Settles With Victims


COVINGTON, Ky., Oct. 12 (AP) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington has agreed to pay a total of about $5.2 million to 27 people who said priests had sexually abused them in their youth.

The men and women had accused at least six priests of abuse in the 1960's and 1970's in Lexington and other parts of northern Kentucky.

In two agreements announced Saturday, the payouts were $4,415,000 to 24 people and $750,000 to three others. The amount each person will receive is based on the severity of the abuse and its impact.

The settlements follow meetings between Bishop Roger J. Foys and many of the claimants, who included 22 plaintiffs in a lawsuit and 5 others who brought out-of-court claims.

"I am very pleased that we are able to take this important step, and I pray that it will be the beginning of healing and reconciliation with those who have been deeply hurt as children by priests," Bishop Foys said in a statement.

Daniel Lucas, one of 18 people who said they were abused by the Rev. Leonard Nienaber in Lexington, said it was a shame the diocese waited for the children to become adults before such a reconciliation.

"I'm cautious but optimistic that the Catholic Diocese of Covington has recognized that abuse has occurred," Mr. Lucas said, "and reconciling and healing the abused is far more important than any image they can hope to portray."

Father Nienaber, who is in his 90's, has been serving a 10-year sentence at a treatment center in Missouri after his conviction on 10 abuse charges in 1993.


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