Father Nick Mormando, the provincial of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of Union City, N.J., said Monday he hopes the Dec. 1 settlement that was reached with child abuse victims of former Capuchin priest Paul L. Daleo helps the survivors and their families reach a deeper level of healing and peace.
“I want to apologize on behalf of all the friars of our province for the pain and suffering they’ve experienced because of what happened to them,” Father Mormando said. “We pray, all of us, that this will never happen again.”
Daleo’s victims were nine men of 14 who reached a $7 million settlement in a child sexual abuse case against the Capuchin friars, St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington, where Daleo taught from 1978 through 1982, and the Brothers of Holy Cross, who run the academy.
Five of the claims in the settlement pertained to a former St. Edmond’s teacher, John J. Fleming, who was also a coach at the school from 1981 to January 1984.
“My main concern is that the victims and their families are given a level of peace and healing by the settlement, especially peace,” Father Mormando said.
The provincial said Daleo was officially laicized on October 2009 and the Capuchins have put “proper safeguards’ in place against future sex abuse cases occurring.
“We’ve just been re-accredited by Praesidium,” he said. Praesidium is a national abuse risk management group that provides background checks and creates safe environment procedures for children and vulnerable adults.
Mark Reardon, a Wilmington attorney who represented the Capuchin Franciscans in the settlement, said, “the religious orders and St. Edmond’s worked together to negotiate and fund the settlement.”
Reardon added, “Fortunately, the largest percentage of this settlement was paid by insurance companies. Unfortunately, one of the insurers for the Capuchins became insolvent in 2003, so some portion of the settlement had to be paid from the modest reserves of the Capuchins,”
Daleo had also taught at St. John the Beloved School but the suits against that school and the diocese were resolved in the bankruptcy settlement plan, Reardon said.
Wilmington attorney Jim Green, who represented St. Edmond’s Academy and the Brothers of the Holy Cross in the settled cases, said St. Edmond’s and the brothers “have great sympathy for the survivors” of sex abuse and hope the settlement “helps them in their healing process.”
Green noted that were “never complaints of any nature” against Daleo while he taught at the school or after his time there until a suit was filed in 2008.
In the case of Fleming, who had taught at St. Edmond’s, he was “terminated” in 1984, said Green.
Two of the cases filed against the academy were by men who had never attended St. Edmond’s, Green said.
Both the settlement and defense costs to St. Edmond’s and the Holy Cross brothers were covered by applicable insurance policies, he added.
Settlement amounts to survivors of sex abuse were calculated in a similar manner to the Diocese of Wilmington’s $77.4 million bankruptcy settlement, Green said.