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Catholic Church Is Said to Settle Molestation Suit

Reprinted from The New York Times

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington made a secret out of court settlement with a 20 year old man who sued the church for negligence after he was molested by a Catholic priest in the early 1980’s, The Washington Post reported today.

The newspaper, citing a source it did not identify, said the archdiocese agreed to pay a six figure sum in the settlement reached Oct. 14.

in exchange for the settlement, the plaintiff, who was not identified by name, agreed to the archdiocese’s request for a court order sealing the file in the case to prohibit public disclosure of the evidence or the settlement amount, The Post said. The court order sealing the case was signed by Judge Stanley B. Frosh of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Md. The trial in the lawsuit had been scheduled before Judge Frosh next month.

Priest at Treatment Center

The plaintiff was one of three teen-agers sexually abused in the early 1980’s by the Rev. Peter M. McCutcheon, who pleaded guilty to molestation charges in 1986. Mr. McCutcheon was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but later had the sentence reduced to probation on condition that he move into a church operated treatment center in New Mexico. He is there now. He was ordained in 1979 and committed the sexual assaults when he was a priest at two churches in Prince George’s County, Md.

The plaintiff had sought $2 million in damages, saying church officials “knew of or should have known” of Mr. McCutcheon’s pedophilia before he was arrested.

James C. “Beau” Brincefield, Jr., the plaintiff’s lawyer, said he recommended his client accept the settlement because, “I never had any doubt we’d win the case, but I was concerned about the length of time it would take and the uncertainty involved in multiple levels of appeal.”

Anthony P. Interdonato, a lawyer, for the archdiocese, refused to discuss any payment by the church but said the settlement included “absolutely no admission of liability whatsoever” by church officials.

Reprinted from The New York Times, Thursday, October 27, 1988.