The Church’s unholy burden – Of rampant sexual abuse and hush money settlements

Year after year, we come across news that does not go viral about the hush money paid by the Church to victims of sexual abuse across the world. Be it children, nuns or other members, the Church is a hotspot for sexual abuse. There is no denying this truth. In 2023, we made a report on the number of instances of this being done over the years.

The Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation in France reported in March 2024 that hundreds of victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests or church representatives have received financial compensation under a sweeping reparations program started in 2022. As of 2022, 1,351 victims came forward, with 489 approved for compensation, including 88 granted the maximum of 60,000 euros ($65,000). The authority provides not only financial reparations but also non-financial support, such as assistance in writing victim statements, facilitating meetings with church representatives, and helping mend relationships impacted by the abuse. The program aims to address the systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church, estimated to have affected 330,000 children over 70 years.

Here is a summary of that report.

1. May 11 : Rev Foster P Rogers sexually abused a 15-year-old victim in his car in July 1979. Rogers, who belongs to New York’s Catholic Church, arrived at a settlement by paying $100 million to the victim. Another settlement arrived at in May this year was by the Orleans Catholic Church, which paid $1 million to the victims aged between 10 and 12 years. In this case, the victim was the child of a family friend of the accused, Padre Wheeler. In exchange for not taking his case to trial, Wheeler agreed to serve five years of probation, avoid contact with the victim, and register as a sex offender for 15 years.

2. May 3 : Tasmania’s Anglican Church arrived at a settlement with 16 victims of sexual abuse in May this year. A total of $6.5 million was paid as a settlement. It must be highlighted that one of the victims, aged 11 to 15 years, was abused by three Anglican Padres and a teacher.

3. March 25 : Rochester Roman Catholic Church paid $7.6 million in March this year. The Padres are accused of abusing 400 victims.

4. August 2022 : On August 4, Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese paid a settlement amount of $12.7 million to the 111 victims who the Padres sexually abused. The settlement was made under the diocese’s independent survivor compensation program.

5. July 2022 : Two settlement cases were arrived at in July last year. On July 7, New York’s Roman Catholic Church paid a compensation of $1 million to 2 of Padre Mark Haight’s 400 victims. It is reported that despite knowing that Haight had abused many boys for decades, he was repeatedly relocated instead of being reported to the police.

On July 5, the Bishop’s Conference of Scotland paid 2.25 million pounds as a settlement to a boy who was abused in the 1970s when he attended a residential school in Scotland. The victim was 14 to 16 years old when the ‘spiritual’ director of the Scottish Seminary assaulted him 2 to 3 times a month in the dormitory bed.

6. September 2018 : The Brooklyn Roman Catholic Church paid $27.5 million on September 18, 2018, for the sexual abuse by its religious teachers. Four victims were subjected to sexual assaults in Brooklyn between 2003 and 2009 during an after-school program when they were aged between 8 and 12 years.

7. May 2007 : On May 19, 2007, the Youth Minister of the Long Island Roman Catholic Church paid hush money of $11.45 million to victims who were repeatedly raped as teenagers in the 1990s. He had to pay $250,000 annually to a woman for 12 years and $115,000 to a man for the next 30 years who were his teen victims.

These are just some of the umpteen cases that never made it to the news. This was from 2023.

Million dollar settlements in Church Sex Abuse

In 2024, we could only find a few more such news reports presented below.

In February 2024, a Tasmanian court ordered the Anglican Church to pay $2.4 million in damages to John Steen, a victim-survivor of child sexual abuse by a paedophile priest, Louis Victor Daniels, in the 1980s. Despite Steen’s attempts to seek justice, the Church covered up the abuse, facilitated a confidential settlement, and misrepresented the situation. The court found that the Church’s response compounded the impact on Steen and prioritized protecting its reputation over the welfare of victims. This significant judgment sets a precedent for holding institutions accountable for failing to address child sexual abuse and could pave the way for justice for other victim-survivors.

In April 2024, the Portuguese Catholic Church announced it would financially compensate victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, with compensation amounts determined on a case-by-case basis. This approach drew criticism from survivors’ groups, who argued that all victims should receive equal compensation and that the Church should proactively reach out to victims instead of waiting for them to request compensation. The decision came after a report revealed clergy sexually abused at least 4,815 minors over seven decades.

The horrifying reality of widespread child sexual abuse in Christian institutions has been brought to light by recent investigations. In Portugal, an independent commission’s report revealed that over 4,800 minors were sexually abused by Catholic Church clergy over 70 years. This shocking revelation is likely just the tip of the iceberg, as a Vatican insider estimates that up to a million Italian children may have been victimized over seven decades. Despite overwhelming evidence, the Catholic Church has consistently used its immense wealth and influence to silence victims and protect abusers from facing justice. This systematic cover-up and lack of accountability have allowed these heinous crimes to continue unchecked, leaving countless children traumatized and scarred for life.

(Courtesy :, 11th June 2024)

The Catholic Church has consistently used its immense wealth to silence victims and protect abusers from facing justice !