$1.5 million settlement announced in sexual abuse lawsuit alleging church knew about music minister’s past

by Jay Pate

The Diocese of Charlotte has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the Catholic Church’s pattern of hiring and protecting sexual predators allowed a former parish music minister to repeatedly molest a young girl. The case began in 2009 when Asheville, North Carolina police charged Paul Lawrence Berrell, a former music minister at St. Eugene Catholic Church, with taking indecent liberties with a 13 year-old child. Berrell was ultimately sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

The child’s parents sued Berrell and the Diocese of Charlotte. The lawsuit alleged that church officials knew about Berrell’s history of assaulting children at parishes in Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee before he was assigned to St. Eugene. In response, the diocese denied that Berrell had a history of improper sexual activity that was known to church officials.

Under the terms of the settlement, the child will be awarded $1.2 million and the parents will receive $340,000. Some of the money from the settlement will be used to purchase of an annuity for the child’s benefit.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson Fighting for Children and Families

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are proud of the work we have done on behalf children and their families:

  • 36 million jury verdict for a child who suffered brain damage and other serious injuries in a bus crash on the way to church camp.
  • $6.7 million verdict in a personal injury lawsuit against the United States for medical errors at a VA hospital that caused permanent brain damage to an 8-year-old child.
  • $2.2 million jury verdict in a personal injury lawsuit involving improper discharge of a newborn from the hospital with low glucose levels, resulting in moderate brain damage.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and reached settlements in hundreds more. In the year 2010 alone, we settled personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also possesses the financial resources to take on personal injury cases from start to finish. In many cases, our firm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

Contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free contact form located on this page.