Advocates for Victims of Clergy Abuse Say Proposed Settlement Not Enough

Aug 26, 2015

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee filed its bankruptcy plan this week. A judge will consider it in November. If she accepts the settlement, it will end court battles against the church for clergy who sexually abused people dating back decades. The victims says the money won’t end the pain.

At age 91, Angie Roscholi is the oldest of the clergy abuse victims in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Her son Father Domenic Roscholi say she came forward with her story for one reason.

“The children that are still being hurt. She’s worried about the children that are still being hurt,” Roscholi says.

Dressed in his black shirt and collar, Roscholi says reconciling his faith with the assaults a priest committed against his mother remains a constant battle.

“The name Israel, which is the name God gave to his people in Hebrew means one who wrestles with God. And right now I think I’ve been wrestling a long time,” Roscholi says.

Rascholi’s mother is one of more than 300 people expected to share in the $21 million settlement with the Archdiocese.

“Her quote was I’ll probably use it for my burial expense, that’s what she said. And she said if there’s anything left I’ll give it to charity or I’ll help the kids out,” Roscholi says.

Under the proposed agreement, Milwaukee’s settlement will be about a tenth of the size of what’s been awarded in other places, according to Peter Isley. He’s the Midwest director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. And Isley says not enough of the money will go to actual victims.

“This bankruptcy was filed according to the Archbishop to bring compensation and healing resolution to victims of child sexual abuse. What is has turned into is basically a kind of feeding trough for lawyers. And I don’t think anyone can look at this and say this was successful, this did its job, when like 74 percent of the money is going to lawyers,” Isley says.

A court appointee would determine the amount each victim receives. Isley expects each survivor to put the money to good use.

“That allows victims to go into treatment, that allows them to take care of their families. Many of them have not worked for a long time. Are under mental health and psychiatric care. So that amount of money allows them to do something in their lives, which is going to help them to recover from this trauma.  And it’s an acknowledgement as well, because in our society, money is how we deliver messages, whether we like it or not," Isley says.

Yet Father Domenic Roscholi hopes people realize a settlement won’t end the suffering. He still sees it in his mom.

“You don’t turn a page on pain, the victims stay on the same page. And life goes on, but they get stuck. And one little moment can get them stuck ahead,” Roscholi says.