Four young men who were repeatedly raped by their catechism teacher have received one of the Catholic Church's biggest-ever settlements with abuse victims. The New York Diocese of Brooklyn says the men, who were abused between the ages of 8 and 12 and are now ages 19 to 21, will receive $6.875 million each under the terms of the settlement, NBC News reports. Angelo Serrano, former director of religious education at St. Lucy's-St. Patrick's Church, was arrested in 2009 after one of the boys told his mother about the abuse. The 67-year-old is currently serving a 15-year sentence. Lawyers for the victims say other boys were severely abused, but "the statute of limitations prevents their claims from being brought."
After the victims sued, the diocese argued that it shouldn't be held responsible for the abuse because Serrano was officially a volunteer, not an employee, even though he received a stipend from the church, the New York Times reports. A judge, however, found that priests and parish workers ignored signs of abuse, including the fact that Serrano regularly had young boys sleep over at his apartment. In a deposition, Father Stephen Lynch admitted that he had seen Serrano inappropriately embrace an 8- or 9-year-old boy and kiss him on the lips. "These were egregious incidences of sexual abuse," attorney Ben Rabinowitz tells the New York Post. "And this all happened after the priests were taught to recognize the signs of abuse." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)