Brooklyn diocese pays $27.5M to settle sex abuse cases
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The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has agreed to pay a $27.5 million settlement to several men who were sexually abused as children by a religion teacher at a Catholic church in the area.

The New York Times reports that the settlement, stemming from abuse that occurred between 2003 and 2009 at the St. Lucy's-St. Patrick's Church in Brooklyn, is one of the largest cash settlements for victims of clerical sexual abuse in history.

The former director of religious education at the church, Angelo Serrano, 67, is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree sexual conduct charges, according to the Times. He was arrested in 2009 for sexually abusing several boys.

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A co-director of the group BishopAccountability.org, a watchdog organization that tracks Catholic sex abuse cases, told the Times that the settlement was an indication of the newfound pressure the Catholic Church is under following the publication of a Pennsylvania grand jury report earlier this year detailing hundreds of sex abuse claims involving priests in that state.

“This is an extremely large settlement, and the size of the settlement has to be an indication of the severity of the abuse, and also of the pressure that the Catholic Church is under,” Terry McKiernan told the newspaper.

The victims, who the newspaper reports are currently between the ages of 19 and 21, had their identities withheld at their own request.

The diocese did not immediately respond to requests for comment for the Times report.

Pope Francis referred to the crimes described in the Pennsylvania report as "atrocities" in a letter last month.

"Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient," he wrote. "Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated." 

"We showed no care for the little ones," the pope added, "we abandoned them."