NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Brooklyn Diocese has reached a historic $27.5 million settlement over sexual abuse allegations against a former teacher.
Angelo Serrano, 67, was once a volunteer CCD teacher at the former St. Lucy-St. Patrick’s Church in Clinton Hill. Now, he’s behind bars for sexual abuse.
“What he did was abuse those children – some for weeks, some for months, some for years,” one victim’s attorney, Ben Rubinowitz, said.
Lawyers for the four victims, who were boys at the time, say they were repeatedly raped by Serrano between 2003 and 2009 while he was a volunteer CCD teacher.
“We’re dealing with children, with boys that were between the ages of 8 years old and 12 years old,” said Rubinowitz.
Now, the men have reached a $27.5 million settlement with the diocese, each getting $6.8 million.
“This is one of the largest, if not the largest, settlement involving church sexual abuse in the country,” Rubinowitz said.
The attorney says church staff knew about Serrano’s conduct but failed to stop the abuse, despite training given.
“A priest testified at a deposition that he actually witnessed Serrano, the abuser, kiss an 8- or 9-year-old boy on the mouth,” said attorney Peter Saghir. “He never even reported what he saw.”
The diocese denies any role in the sexual abuse, but said in a statement, “The diocese remains committed to ensuring that its parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people who are entrusted in our care.”
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has concluded litigation in which it highly contested its role in the sexual abuse of four pre-adolescent boys. The diocese and another defendant have settled these lawsuits brought by the four claimants who were sexually abused by Angelo Serrano at his private apartment many years ago. Mr. Serrano was a volunteer worker at a local parish; he was not clergy or an employee of the Diocese or parish. He is currently serving a prison term for his crimes. For three of the claimants, another defendant is contributing a significant portion of the settlement. The Diocese endeavored to reach this settlement in a way that compensates Mr. Serrano’s victims and respects their privacy. We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for these claimants,” the rest of the statement read.
Serrano is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2011.