May 25, 2012 - This week, thousands of documents concerning nine Roman Catholic priests who settled a landmark clergy abuse lawsuit in 2006 were made public. The newly-released files provide a detailed look into the accusations, as well as reveal instances when members of the clergy were allowed to interact with children despite their superiors being aware of previous indiscretions. Three former priests whose histories are detailed in the new documents are Gus Krumm, Gary Pacheco, and Monsignor Michael Harris, a former principal of both Mater Dei and Santa Margarita Catholic high schools in Orange County, CA.
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Michael Harris, the first principal of Santa Margarita Catholic High School, was a defendant in a pivotal lawsuit settled for more than $5 million in 2001 that marked the beginning of a worldwide scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic church. Documents from the case were made public on Wednesday, as part of a 2006 settlement between the Franciscan Friars of California and 25 plaintiffs who brought claims against Krumm, Pacheco, and seven other members of the clergy.
The Friars eventually ended up paying out nearly $30 million to settle the complaints, and fought unsuccessfully all the way to the California Supreme Court to have the case documents sealed. Among the newly-released files are thousands of pages of personal records, psychological reports, and other detailed information connected to the accused priests named in the suits. Victim abuse advocates applauded the long-anticipated release of documents. The files, which contain upwards of 10,000 pages, will be available for reading at www.bishop-accountability.org.
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