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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:20 a.m., Thursday, July 22, 2004

Diocese settles abuse lawsuit

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Catholic Diocese of Hawai'i has settled a sex-abuse lawsuit that claimed two boys were molested by a priest.

Details of the settlement, filed in Circuit Court in June, will not be made public.

"The settlement agreement specifically says that the parties can only state that the case was settled and that the lawsuit will be dismissed with prejudice," said Stephen Dyer, attorney for the diocese.

The suit had been filed in May 2002 on behalf of Darick Agasiva and Fa'amoana Purcell, who claimed that the Rev. Roberto de Otero sexually molested them in the mid-to-late 1980s in the rectory at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Attorney David Gierlach, who represents the two Hawai'i men, would not say if his clients were happy with the settlement. "The case has been resolved," Gierlach said today. "That's all anybody who is a party to this suit is authorized to say."

De Otero, who lives in California, was one of four priests that former Hawai'i Bishop Francis DiLorenzo removed from public ministry after arriving here in 1993, following allegations of sexual misconduct. Three of the four priests admitted to the misconduct; de Otero was one of the three.

Diocese spokesman Patrick Downes said the plaintiffs requested the confidential settlement.

He said the diocese would have preferred that the details be released. When sex abuse scandals surfaced in huge numbers two years ago, Hawai'i diocese officials were concerned that many of the cases received confidential settlements.

"It was interpreted as hush money," he said. "That dioceses were paying plaintiffs off to keep them quiet and to avoid the scandal."