Milwaukee archdiocese settles clergy abuse claims for $16.65 million

Milwaukee archdiocese settles clergy abuse claims for $16.65 million

[JURIST] Two days of court-ordered mediation have resulted in a $16.65 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee [official website] and 10 people who alleged they were sexually abused by a priest whom the diocese transferred to California, the archdiocese announced Friday [press release]. Insurance will cover about half of the settlement. The archdiocese allegedly transferred Siegfried Widera to California in 1981 despite knowledge of sexual abuse. Widera was facing more than 40 counts of child molestation in Wisconsin and California when he committed suicide in 2003.

The California Legislature opened courts to hundreds of otherwise time-barred lawsuits by passing a law [SNAP backgrounder] in 2002 that lifted the statute of limitations on claims of clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive] for one year. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled [opinion text] on Tuesday that claims involving Widera were barred by Wisconsin's statute of limitations. AP has more. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has local coverage.