Settlements reached in sex abuse cases

By Leah Hope

July 21, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) Settlements have been reached in several sex abuse cases involving the Chicago archdiocese.

For the first time ever, the public is learning what a former top ranking aide to Cardinals Bernardin and George had to say about the abuse under oath.

The abuse cases date back several decades.

Attorneys for the six victims announced the $3.9 million settlement on Tuesday. The deal also included releasing the deposition of now-retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedart. He retired 6 years ago after dealing with dozens of abuse cases.

The money and the release of the deposition settles a case brought on behalf of six victims of sexual abuse. While there is a lot of money involved, attorneys for the victims says the ultimate benefit is the effort toward transparency.

Lawyers negotiated for a year to have the deposition released. Finally, on Tuesday the deposition of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Raymond Goedert goes public.

“This is a great step forward. We really have to look at what has been to make sure that it doesn’t get repeated in the future,” said Jeff Anderson, attorney for the victims.

During the deposition, attorney Jeff Anderson asked, “it is a fact that a number of priests were continued in ministry after having admitted having committed crimes of sexual abuse, correct?” Bishop Goedert replied, “I’d have to say that some were. I wouldn’t be saying that all were.”

The settlement allowing the deposition’s release includes four priests: Kenneth Ruge and Robert Becker who are deceased; Norbert Maday who was convicted of sexual abuse in Wisconsin; Romano Russell who was assigned to St. Barbara’s in Brookfield until 1991 when he was laicized after three boys complained of abuse.

Regarding Fr. Maday’s assignments, despite accusations of abuse, Bishop Goedert was asked, “so it’s correct to say that Maday was continued in parish work without warning to parishioners and without report to police?” Goedert replied, “yeah, as was the practice then. It’s totally different now, but that was the practice.”

“It reflects a culture that has been intact and to the extent that they still keep secrets it’s still alive,” said Anderson.

No one from the Archdiocese of Chicago would comment on camera on Tuesday, but a spokeswoman confirms the settlement and efforts to help victims resolves their cases without lengthy court proceedings.

Chancellor Jimmy Lago said in a written statement: ” We believe that negotiation and mediation are the best, most compassionate ways to resolve these cases, as it spares the survivors and their families the burdens and stresses of an extended legal process.”

Bishop Goedert also comments on other cases like Mayer who settled a sexual abuse case in 1982 and was reassigned later to be arrested for sexual abuse of a minor. Bishop Goedert said: “…..he’s responsible for his own behavior, that the Archdiocese really can’t be held accountable. Now, we’ve been held accountable by society and by lawsuits, et cetera. But basically, he is responsible for his own behavior. In this particular case, if it came down to somebody asking now today did we act responsibly by allowing him to stay in ministry, I would say yes, but it was a poor decision when you look at everything about this man. ”

In January the deposition of Cardinal George was released. Attorneys for the victims say more will be released as cases are settled.

None of the victims wanted to be interviewed on Tuesday.

Deposition of Auxiliray Bishop Emeritus Raymond Goedert:

(Copyright ?2009 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)