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Accountability

Settlement reached in civil trial of retired Mass. bishops

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- A Massachusetts man who was abused in the 1980s by Alfred F. Graves, a former priest of the Springfield Diocese, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with retired Springfield Bishops Joseph F. Maguire and Thomas L. Dupre July 27.

The agreement, worked out late July 26, ended a dramatic civil trial that featured emotional testimony by the abuse victim, Andrew Nicastro, now 41, his family members and two priests who testified to the harm caused by Graves from 1982 to 1985.

Nicastro, of Williamstown, alleged the bishops had been negligent during their respective tenures as head of the diocese by returning the former priest to ministry with insufficient supervision knowing he had a history of abusing boys. He filed suit in 2009.

Bishop Maguire, now 92, was named coadjutor for Springfield in 1976, was installed in 1977 and retired in 1991. His successor, Bishop John A. Marshall, died in 1994. Bishop Dupre, now 78, was appointed to succeed him and was installed in 1995. Citing health reasons, he resigned in 2004.

"The testimony was compelling," John Stobierski, Nicastro's principal attorney, said after the trial.

Priest at center of Kansas City sex abuse cases expected to plead guilty

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The priest whose arrest for possession of child pornography led to the first criminal charges against a Catholic bishop in the church's decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis is expected to plead guilty in federal court Thursday to at least some of the charges against him, according to court records.

SNAP conference offers legal updates, healing

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The meeting agenda of the largest advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse was filled with updates on the group’s legal matters, but for many in attendance, the gathering also offered hope for healing and an opportunity to be understood.

The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, held its annual conference July 27-29 in Chicago. The more than 200 who attended heard updates on a Missouri court’s order to release documents to lawyers representing accused priests; the group’s case before an international criminal court; and the recent abuse trials in Pennsylvania.

SNAP has appealed the Missouri court order to the state’s Supreme Court and expected a decision from the high court as the conference began, but nothing emerged. Barbara Blaine, the group's founder and president, said that while the order has spread fear, victims have also expressed relief that the group’s leadership is intent on fighting to keep members’ information private.

“I think that has meant a great deal to a lot of people,” Blaine said.

Philadelphia priest guilty of child endangerment to serve up to six years in prison

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For failing to protect children from a known predator priest, Msgr. William J. Lynn will spend three to six years in prison.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina read the former secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese her sentence July 24 before a standing-room-only courtroom.

"You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," Sarmina said, according to The Associated Press.

Other courtroom reports quoted the judge as telling Lynn, 61, he "helped many but also failed many," and "enabled monsters in clerical garb … to destroy the souls of children."

When given the chance to speak, Lynn said he did his best to protect children, but acknowledged that his best wasn't good enough.

Lynn's lawyers have stated they will appeal his case. A hearing to release the convicted priest on bail during the appeal process was postponed until Aug. 6.

Present in the courtroom were many from Lynn's family and support circle, several of whom took the stand as character witnesses for the monsignor. Just as many stood beside the victim of Edward Avery, a defrocked priest who molested the 10-year-old altar boy in 1999.

Update: Call about legal status led to questions about Nevada Catholic Conference director

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UPDATE, July 19: Nevada's two bishops first became aware that the executive director of the Nevada Catholic Conference pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge after someone called the Las Vegas diocese asking about the man's legal status about three weeks ago, the chancellor of the Reno diocese said Thursday.

"That seems to be the first information that we had to the fact that this was out there," said Holy Rosary Br. Matthew Cunningham. After the call three weeks ago, he said, Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Pepe and Reno Bishop Randolph Calvo began engaging in conversation with John Cracchiolo on the matter and "how it needed to be dealt with."

In the middle of the conversations with the bishops, Cracchiolo resigned from the executive director position in an email July 11.

Cunningham said the information on Cracchiolo's past hadn't come up before because the lobbyist wasn't convicted of his felony until 2009, after he had started work with the conference, so "it did not surface in the vetting process."

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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