Camden diocese settles old abuse cases

The Diocese of Camden has made financial settlements to resolve cases against two South Jersey priests accused of abusing boys in the 1950s and 1960s.

The payments made to the victims, one now in his 70s and the other about 60, were in the middle "five figures," said their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston.

Garabedian said the settlement in the first case was made in January.

The other settlement was made in February 2015.

They were among a series of settlements Garabedian announced this week.

Garabedian has represented many individuals who alleged they were abused by Catholic priests, nuns, or other church employees, including some affiliated with the Dioceses of Camden, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. He was portrayed in the recent Academy Award-winning film Spotlight about child sex abuse by clergy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

In the first case, a man who is now in his 70s and lives in Philadelphia alleged that the Rev. James Brennan abused him multiple times from 1957 to 1959 at the then-St. Maurice Parish in Brooklawn, in the church's bathroom and the priest's bedroom at the rectory.

The victim was 12 to 14 years old at the time of incidents. Brennan has died.

In the other case, a victim who now lives in New Jersey said he was abused by the Rev. Philip Mathews when he was about 10 in 1966. The alleged abuse occurred in an Atlantic City hotel room.

Garabedian said Mathews, who also has died, was assigned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Berlin at the time.

"Clergy sexual abuse victims should be proud of themselves for reporting sexual abuse," Garabedian said. "By reporting clergy abuse, victims are empowering themselves, other victims, and making the world a safer place for children."

Michael Walsh, spokesman for the Camden Diocese, said the diocese's policy is to "settle every single credible claim of sexual abuse - no matter how old the claim might be, and regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired."

Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a New Jersey organization that supports abuse victims, called the settlements "a major step on their road to recovery."

He credited the Camden Diocese with being more willing to resolve cases than some others in the Catholic church hierarchy.