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in Central Park Jogger Case
Will Settle Suit for $40 Million
JUNE 19, 2014
The New York Times
By BENJAMIN WEISER
The five men whose convictions in the brutal 1989 beating and
rape of a female jogger in Central Park were later overturned have agreed to a
settlement of about $40 million from New York City to resolve a bitterly fought
civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment in the sensational
The agreement, reached between the city’s Law Department and the five
plaintiffs, would bring to an end an extraordinary legal battle over a crime
that came to symbolize a sense of lawlessness in New York, amid reports of
“wilding” youths and a marauding “wolf pack” that set its sights on a
28-year-old investment banker who ran in the park many evenings after work.
The confidential deal, disclosed by a person who is not a party in the lawsuit
but was told about the proposed settlement, must still be approved by the city
comptroller and then by a federal judge.
The initial story of the crime, as told by the police and prosecutors, was that
a band of young people, part of a larger gang that rampaged through Central
Park, had mercilessly beaten and sexually assaulted the jogger. The story
quickly exploded into the public psyche, fanned by politicians and sensational
news reports that served to inflame racial tensions.
The five black and Hispanic men, ages 14 to 16 at the time of their arrests,
claimed that incriminating statements they had given had been coerced by the
authorities. The statements were ruled admissible, and the men were convicted in
two separate trials in 1990.
In December 2002, an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M.
Morgenthau, found DNA and other evidence that the woman had been raped and
beaten not by the five teenagers but by another man, Matias Reyes, a convicted
rapist and murderer who had confessed to acting alone in the attack. Concluding
that the new evidence could have changed the original verdict, Mr. Morgenthau’s
office joined a defense motion asking that the convictions be vacated.
If approved, the settlement would fulfill a pledge by Mayor Bill de Blasio to
meet a “moral obligation to right this injustice.”
The proposed settlement averages roughly $1 million for each year of
imprisonment for the men. That amount would suggest that the city was poised to
pay one of the men, Kharey Wise, who spent about 13 years in prison, more than
it has in any wrongful conviction case.
The other four men — Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Raymond
Santana Jr. — served about seven years in prison.
The lawsuit had accused the city’s police and prosecutors of false arrest,
malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive the men of
their civil rights, allegations which the administration of Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg denied and fought vigorously for more than a decade in federal court.
In contesting the suit, the Bloomberg administration argued that the authorities
had acted in good faith and with cause, and should not be held liable. In 2011,
a senior corporation counsel lawyer said that the charges had been supported by
“abundant probable cause, including confessions that withstood intense scrutiny,
in full and fair pretrial hearings and at two lengthy public trials.”
Continue reading the main story
In early 2013, the city’s Law Department echoed those views. “The case is not
about whether the teens were wrongly convicted,” a department spokeswoman said.
“It’s about whether prosecutors and police deliberately engaged in misconduct.”
But in January, lawyers for Mayor de Blasio asked the court to delay the
litigation so that the new corporation counsel, Zachary W. Carter, could “get up
to speed on the facts and the circumstances” of the case. Later, the mayor said
that Mr. Carter was “committed to making sure we get to that settlement quickly,
some complicated issues, but we’re going to work through them very, very
If the proposed settlement is approved by the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, it
would then be submitted for approval to Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal
District Court in Manhattan. In 2007, Judge Batts rejected the city’s motion to
dismiss the suit and allowed most of the claims to proceed.
In such settlements, the city typically does not admit liability or wrongdoing;
and any settlement with the five men would presumably include the legal fees and
costs. Aides to Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Carter and Mr. Stringer all declined to
comment on Thursday when asked about the discussions, as did Jonathan C. Moore,
a lawyer representing four of the men. A lawyer for the fifth man did not return
a message seeking comment.
The proposed deal comes not long after the city said it would settle two
longstanding lawsuits involving the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk
practices. In that litigation as well, Mr. de Blasio reversed the city’s
long-held position, and he agreed to sweeping court-ordered reforms that the
Bloomberg administration had tried to block on appeal.
The mayor made that announcement at a news conference in Brownsville, Brooklyn,
where stop-and-frisk tactics had been widely used. He appeared with Mr. Carter;
the police commissioner, William J. Bratton; and, in a show of unity, lawyers
with groups that had sued the city.
It is not yet known if or how the mayor might announce a settlement of the
Central Park lawsuit, if it is approved.
Over the years, the men have consistently maintained their innocence in the rape
of the jogger, Trisha Meili, who was left with no memory of the attack. (Years
later, Ms. Meili revealed her identity and wrote a book, “I Am the Central Park
Jogger.”) In prison, three of the men — Mr. Richardson, Mr. Salaam and Mr.
Santana — maintained their innocence in the rape at parole hearings, where such
a stance hurt their chances at a reduced term. At the hearings, the men
acknowledged being in the park as part of a group of teenagers, some of whom
committed assaults unrelated to the attack on Ms. Meili, and most expressed
regret for the events, without going into specifics, transcripts show.
Mr. Santana indicated in his hearing that the larger group was out to rob
people. “I took part in with the beatings of that man,” he said of one victim,
adding, “If I could go back in time and not do it again, you know, it would have
been a whole different story.”
The men’s lawyers have long said that their clients committed no crimes in the
park that night.
In recent years, the case remained in the public eye, largely through a
documentary, “The Central Park Five,” made by the filmmakers Ken Burns; his
daughter, Sarah Burns; and her husband, David McMahon.
As recently as last Friday, about 100 people gathered at the Brown Memorial
Baptist Church in Brooklyn to view the film and to hear a talk by one of the
men, Mr. Salaam. He described the stigma of living with the brand of being a
rapist. “It wasn’t a popular thing to be one of us,” he said. The film, he
added, “really gave us our lives back.”
At one point, he addressed the lawsuit. “Mayor de Blasio has said that he will
settle this case for us and there has been some positive motion,” Mr. Salaam
said, adding, “We’ve been waiting for 25 years for justice.”
Jim Dwyer contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2014,
on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline:
5 Exonerated In Jogger Rape Agree to Settle.
5 Exonerated in Central Park Jogger Case Will Settle Suit for $40 Million,
Penn State to Pay
Nearly $60 Million
to 26 Abuse Victims
October 28, 2013
The New York Times
By JOE DRAPE
Penn State has agreed to pay $59.7 million to 26 sexual abuse
victims of the former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky in exchange for an
end to their claims against the university, Penn State announced Monday.
Of the 26 settlements, 23 are fully signed and three are agreed to in principle,
with final documentation expected in the next few weeks.
Rodney A. Erickson, the president of the university, called the settlement
“another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and
another step forward for Penn State.”
He added, “We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything
possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.”
University officials emphasized that the settlement money did not come from
tuition, taxpayers or donations, but from various liability insurance policies,
which the university believes will cover the settlements and defense of claims
brought against Penn State and its officers, employees and trustees. Whatever is
not covered is expected to be financed from interest revenue related to loans
made by the university to its self-supporting units. The settlements are sealed
by confidentiality agreements.
In all, the university has been in talks with 32 individuals who were victims of
Sandusky or claimed to be. In a statement, the university said some of the six
remaining claims were without merit and others were in possible settlement
discussions. The university retained the law firm Feinberg Rozen L.L.P. to act
as an independent third-party facilitator of the settlement negotiations between
the university and the victims.
“The board of trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach
settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals
involved,” Keith E. Masser, the board’s chairman, said in a statement.
Clifford Rieders, a lawyer who negotiated one of the settlements, said the
average payout matched other recent cases of child abuse, such as those
involving the Roman Catholic Church. The amount of payment for each of
Sandusky’s victims, however, was decided on individual claims. Eight young men
testified against Sandusky at his trial, describing abuse at his hand when they
were boys that included psychological manipulation, fondling, oral sex and anal
Rieders said his client received a “substantial” settlement and asked for, and
received, a face-to-face-meeting with a top university official whom he would
not identify. He said his client had an emotional exchange with the official
about “how to make things right,” including noneconomic reparations, which
included continued counseling.
“You can never make whole anyone who is raped by another individual,” Rieders
said. “My client found the settlement acceptable under the circumstances.”
Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for two victims, said his clients were focused on Penn
State’s changes to prevent future abuse.
“They wanted to see new training and protocols before we got to the numbers,”
Anderson said. “Over all, it was a very mixed feeling and experience for them.
They broke the silence and stood up to the man who overpowered them. At the same
time, there’s some deep and open wounds that can’t be closed or healed. They’ve
gotten the voice back they didn’t have as kids, but it isn’t a celebration or
Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence. He was
convicted in June 2012 of abusing 10 boys, some of them at Penn State sites. All
of the children were from disadvantaged homes. Sandusky, using his access to the
university football program, had befriended the children and then repeatedly
violated them. He was found guilty of 45 of the 48 counts against him.
The scandal led to the dismissal in 2011 of Penn State’s head football coach,
Joe Paterno, who died in January 2012. Three former Penn State administrators
await trial on charges that they were part of a criminal cover-up of the
Sandusky scandal. The former president Graham B. Spanier, the retired vice
president Gary Schultz and the retired athletic director Tim Curley have denied
Over the past year, Penn State has moved aggressively to put the scandal behind
it with reforms to the university’s management and oversight. The football
program initially received heavy penalties from the N.C.A.A. But last month,
citing a positive report by George J. Mitchell, the former United States senator
who was appointed athletics integrity monitor at Penn State, the organization
decided to ease the penalties.
The Penn State football team, for example, will be allowed to issue 20
scholarships to recruits, instead of 15, starting the next academic year, then
the standard 25 starting the year after that. As a whole, the team will be able
to offer 75 scholarships, instead of 65, starting next year, and that number
will increase until it reaches the standard 85 by the 2016-17 academic year. The
team is still banned from bowl games for three more seasons.
Victims advocate groups have been less forgiving.
“No amount of money can restore the innocence that was taken from the victims,”
said Barbara Dorris, a spokeswoman for Survivors Network of Those Abused by
Priests. “It’s only because of their generosity and courage in speaking up that
Sandusky was removed from his powerful position.”
On the day Sandusky was convicted, Erickson pledged that the university was
determined to compensate the victims and put into place a system of control that
would prevent a similar scandal from happening again.
“We have made great strides, but a great deal of work remains,” Erickson said
Monday “Our university is a better institution today as a result of the work and
dedication of our trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students.”
Penn State to Pay Nearly $60 Million to 26
Reaches $166 Million Settlement
With Sexual Abuse Victims
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
SEATTLE — A
Roman Catholic religious order in the Northwest has agreed to pay $166 million
to more than 500 victims of sexual abuse, many of whom are American Indians and
Alaska Natives who were abused decades ago at Indian boarding schools and in
remote villages, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Friday.
The settlement, with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, known as the
Northwest Jesuits, is the largest abuse settlement by far from a Catholic
religious order, as opposed to a diocese, and it is one of the largest abuse
settlements of any kind by the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are the church’s
largest religious order, and their focus is education. The Oregon Province
includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
“There is a huge number of victims, in part because these Native American
communities were remote and vulnerable, and in part because of a policy by the
Jesuits, even though they deny it, of sending problem priests to these far-off
regions,” said Terry McKiernan of Bishopaccountability.org, a victims’ advocacy
group that tracks abuse cases.
The province released a statement saying it would not comment on the settlement
announced by the plaintiffs’ lawyers because it was involved in bankruptcy
litigation. The bankruptcy stems from previous abuse settlements, totaling about
$55 million, reached several years ago. A small group of victims and their
lawyers have been negotiating the current settlement for more than a year as
part of the province’s bankruptcy-ordered restructuring.
An insurer for the province is paying the bulk of the settlement, which still is
subject to approval by hundreds of other victims and by a federal judge.
John Allison, a lawyer based in Spokane, Wash., represented many clients who
were abused in the late 1960s and early 1970s while they were students at St.
Mary’s Mission in Omak, Wash., near the reservation of the Colville Confederated
Tribes, one of the largest reservations in the country. The Jesuits ran the St.
Mary’s school until the 1970s, when federal policies began to encourage more
Indian control. St. Mary’s is now closed, though its building stands beside a
Mr. Allison noted that English was not the native language for some of the
students at the time of the abuse. Some were 6 and 7 years old and came from
difficult family situations. Some were orphans. At the same time, many Jesuit
priests were not happy to have been assigned to such remote places.
“They let down a very vulnerable population,” Mr. Allison said.
Lawyers representing some of the victims initially suggested they would go after
assets of some of the region’s large Jesuit institutions, including Gonzaga
University and Seattle University. But the settlement does not involve them, and
their future vulnerability is unclear. Mr. Allison said some of the accused
priests, now in their 80s, live at Gonzaga under strict supervision.
Mr. Allison and another lawyer, Leander James, of Idaho, said the settlement
required the province to eventually apologize to the victims.
One of the plaintiffs, Dorothea Skalicky, was living on the Nez Perce Indian
Reservation in northern Idaho in the 1970s when she said she was abused by a
Jesuit priest who ran Sacred Heart Church, in Lapwai. Ms. Skalicky, now 42, said
that her family lived across from the church for several years, and that she was
abused from age 6 to 8.
“My family looked up to him,” Ms. Skalicky said of the priest, who is deceased.
“He was somebody high up that was respected by the community and my parents.”
The church, she said, “was supposed to be a safe place.”
Laurie Goodstein contributed reporting from New York.
Catholic Order Reaches $166 Million Settlement With Sexual
Settles With Victims of Abuse
The New York Times
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del., agreed late Wednesday to settle for $77
million with 146 victims of sexual abuse by clergy members and to release
internal church documents about how the church hierarchy handled the allegations
The sticking point in the negotiations was not the money, but the documents,
according to those involved. The victims insisted that the diocese release the
documents uncensored, and make them publicly available on the Internet.
The committee and the diocese finally agreed that an arbitrator would settle
disagreements over redactions before making the documents public.
The Wilmington diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 in
response to the abuse lawsuits, seeking a consolidated settlement. The monetary
award is less than the settlements in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Calif.,
Boston and Covington, Ky., but includes more assurances for the victims that the
promised documents will actually be released.
Delaware and California passed laws in recent years that allowed people alleging
abuse to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations had expired. The
Catholic Church in several other states, including New York, has led the fight
against similar “window legislation.”
In Wilmington on Thursday, both sides said they were pleased with the agreement,
which included a list of nonmonetary provisions.
The diocese agreed to have priests sign a statement every five years affirming
that they are not aware of undisclosed abuse of minors. And the diocese will
place plaques in its schools saying that abuse of children “shall not be
Matt Conaty, an abuse victim who served as co-chair of the creditors committee
that negotiated on behalf of those abused, said, “We were seeking some measure
of monetary justice, but that was secondary to the concrete child protection
measures and the transparency.”
Mr. Conaty, who is 41 and works in newspaper marketing, said of the two
principals accused of abuse at his old Catholic high school: “Would this plaque
have stopped them? I doubt it, because I think they were sick and I think they
were criminals. But there were teachers who knew there were red flags, and could
have done more.”
Delaware Diocese Settles With Victims of Abuse,
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