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View Diary: San Jose: Millions Withdrawn from Bank of America and Wells Fargo! (288 comments)

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  •  I don't take hush money. (13+ / 0-)

    The Church, as an organization, is still neck-deep in the cover-up, and I am a constant critic of the Church.  

    I don't think this was an effort at image rehab, but a sincere action to do right.  

    I don't think I've mentioned this on DK, because everything connected with my abuse is difficult to talk/write about and feels private.

    Yes, the Church has settled with a number of people with non-disclosure clauses in the settlement agreements.  And not that many years ago, some bishops did hand out money to survivors to keep them quiet.  

    I filed suit against the Archdiocese in which I was abused and the religious order that the person who abused me belonged to at the time.  I can't tell you how stressful a suit that dragged on for years was.

    I don't think I can convey what it was like to go through a day of having my deposition taken by four high-powered attorneys paid for by the Archdiocese.  The deposition was supposed to start at nine in the morning, at their offices, but - oops - the videographer had somehow been given the wrong time and didn't show for three hours in which my attorney and I sat in a conference room and did our best to encourage each other.  

    When the videographer showed up, I was already tired.  The deposition by sharp attorneys went on for over seven hours, in which my sanity and my honesty were challenged.  I was interrogated about every little detail of my five years of abuse, which wasn't fun to relive.  I was interrogated in great detail about my sexual life, what sexual acts I'd ever tried, my sexual feelings, out of what I believe was partly a prurient interest by one icky attorney, and an effort to show me what they would put me through in a public trial.  It was a seven hour effort to exhaust me and intimidate me and make me say I was lying about the abuse.

    My attorney was a great source of strength.  Just tell the truth, she kept saying to me.  Nevertheless, when I read the transcript, I can see that I was almost incoherent by evening, after six hours of attorney assault.

    Things dragged out for another year.  The Archdiocese was losing suit after suit, and as citizens became more irate about the abuse and the cover-ups, juries began awarding not just the amounts survivors asked for, but, on their own, started awarding punitive damages in the millions.

    For many reasons, I did not want to put my family, my kids, my siblings, through a trial, and I wasn't sure I could make it through a trial.  After a suit that shocked the Archdiocese because it award millions in punitive damages when they didn't expect it, they suggested mediation of my case to my attorney.  

    That was also exhausting.  We finally agreed to a sum that was more money than I had earned in my entire life,  more money than was really real to me.  

    Then we got to the details of the settlement agreement, and the final clause was a non-disclosure agreement in which neither party would reveal details of the case or the amount of the settlement.  

    I picked up my things and put on my jacket and said, "That's the deal breaker for me."  And something like, "I haven't done this to help the Church in its conspiracy of silence.  I insist on my right to tell my story.  I'll see you in court."  I probably wasn't quite that articulate, but that was what I tried to say.

    They weren't happy, but they almost instantly took out the non-disclosure clause, and we had an agreement.

    The money was not money I considered mine.  For me, it was so tainted that I wanted nothing to do with it, except to give it to people and organizations who needed it.  The exception was to give my children extra help through school and graduate school, because they have suffered a lot because of what I suffered as a child. I probably didn't give them enough, because they are still struggling with their student loan payments.  

    Some people who signed non-disclosure agreements believe they were coerced to sign them and have decided to violate them and tell their stories and disclose the amounts of their settlements, and dared the Church to make itself look worse by taking legal action against them.  To my knowledge, the Church has left them alone.

    I absolutely agree with you that the abuse conspiracy - and that's what it is and that's how I hope it is one day prosecuted - will haunt the Church forever.

    I personally do not understand how people can continue to belong to the Church or give it financial support.  I think most people in America, at least as far as I hear from my relatives who are (decent, caring, trustworthy) priests, who belong to the Church do not follow all of its rules, as on birth control, directives on how to think about voting, on masturbation and so on.  There are also some extremely conservative, orthodox Catholics in America.  As far as I can tell from their writings, they are very arrogant people who like to throw around Latin terms and would secretly like to bring the Inquistion back and burn people like me at the stake.

    Forgive me for going on at such length, but my integrity has already been challenged so wickedly by the Church, that I am sensitive about it.  I know you didn't mean to challenge me personally.  Thank you for caring about clergy abuse survivors  

    Despite my personal beliefs about the Church, this parish has done a good thing for good motives, and I thank them and hope other religious groups follow their example.  

    I wish you the best.
    Elizabeth

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