Erie Catholic Diocese spends over $4 million on legal fees

Local News

The investigation into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church is costing the Diocese of Erie around $4 million.  We looked into where that money came from.

That $4 million pertains to just the last two years investigating cases of clergy abuse within the Diocese spanning several decades. The bishop says the investment was worth it, but not everyone agrees. 

$4 million over a two-year span.  And, the bishop of Erie, Lawrence Persico, says if he had it to do all over again; he would.  “I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I wanted to know what the truth is.” 

The Diocese of Erie is working with a law firm from Pittsburgh called ‘K&L Gates’.  The firm helped redevelop the Diocese’s child-protection policy, in addition to representing the Diocese throughout the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation leading to the naming of more than 300 predator priests in the Commonwealth.

Bishop Persico says they paid for the attorneys through, essentially, a Diocese savings account and investment earnings. “I thought it was a wise investment. I know it’s a lot of money, but anything that we can do to help protect children, I think is worth it.’ 

But, one man who says he was abused by a priest tells us there were better ways to address the problem that wouldn’t have resulted in the loss of such a substantial amount of money.

Dan Bauer, Abuse Survivor, says, “I don’t see it as spending it on the priest that caused the problem. This is the bishops covering their own tracks for what they did.” Bauer says the Diocese should’ve dealt with the abuse scandal by getting rid of the people at the top.

Persico says he imagines they will continue to work with the law firm as more victims come forward. 

That $4 million does not include the $750,000 previously spent on settlements with the victims.  

The Diocese wants it made clear that no money was used that would otherwise have gone to the parishes.

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