Brooklyn Diocese pays $27.5 million to sex abuse victims

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NEW YORK -

The Brooklyn Diocese has paid $27.5 million to settle four sexual abuse cases, the New York Times reports.

It's one of the largest-ever settlements to individual victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Lawyers say the victims were repeatedly raped over the course of six years, from 2003 to 2009, when they were all 8 to 12 years old.

The abuse happened inside the St. Lucy-St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church and in an adjacent building.

The man who abused the victims was identified as 67-year-old Angelo Serrano, when he was a religious teacher at the parish between 2003 and 2009. He's now in the upstate Fishkill Correctional Facility serving 15 years after being convicted on first-degree sexual conduct charges in the case in 2011.

The Diocese of Brooklyn and an affiliated after-school program provided the settlement cash, something the victims’ lawyers say is a step in the right direction for justice.

"The significance more than anything is for these four children," says lawyer Peter Saghir. "These are four children who are never going to get over the scars that were left on them by the abuse of this man. So this settlement is really justice for these children to ensure they can get the necessary help that they want in the future."

Lawyers say the victims, who are now between 19 and 21 years old and chose not to reveal their identities, will each receive in the settlement nearly $6.9 million.

The Brooklyn Diocese said in a statement:

The Diocese of Brooklyn has concluded litigation in which it highly contested its role in the sexual abuse of four adolescents. The diocese and another defendant have settled these lawsuits brought by the four claimants who were sexually abused by Angelo Serrano at his private apartment many years ago. Mr. Serrano was a volunteer worker at a local parish; he was not clergy or an employee of the Diocese or parish. He is currently serving a prison term for his crimes. For three of the claimants, another defendant is contributing a significant portion of the settlement. The Diocese endeavored to reach this settlement in a way that compensates Mr. Serrano's victims and respects their privacy. We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for these claimants. The Diocese remains committed to ensuring that its parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people who are entrusted to our care.

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