Settlement reached in church sex abuse case, victims share experiences

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock agreed to a settlement with five men who claimed they were sexually abused by a priest.

” It is a debilitating feeling and this has gone on for 45 years,” says one victim.

He is one of several who says as a boy he endured repeated sexual abuse at the hands of Father John J. McDaniel.

“I call that man a Satan.”

It happened at Our Lady of Holy Souls in Hillcrest in the early 1970’s.

That victim was not alone. Another victim of McDaniel’s writing “I’m the young boy whose life was changed by an evil man, a man that was supposed to help me. He was supposed to be a priestly man. A man with a white collar. We called him father.”

That victim recalling McDaniel telling him that “he was a horrible, evil kid. No one would ever love him, God hates him, he would never have any friends and that this was their secret.”

The first victim saying that once Fr. McDaniel went into his classroom and discounted his credibility in front of his peers. “He pointed at me and told the teacher don’t ever believe anything that boy says or tells you. You cannot trust anything he says.”

Both were also subjected to sexual acts.

“They were never the same after that,” says Attorney Josh Gillispie, who handled the case. “Something was permanently broken in them after these experiences.”

Recently a settlement was reached where the Diocese of Little Rock agreed to compensate the victims for the child sex abuse claims. Gillispie believes this is the first time in Arkansas the diocese has paid a settlement, but he says while the compensation is significant for the state, it wasn’t as it should have been because of the statute of limitations.

“Until Arkansas changes, it’s outdated statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims the diocese is never going to truly do right by them,” says Gillispie.

For decades both victims thought they were alone. They chose to share their stories so others know they are not alone.

Fr. John McDaniel died in 1974. Both victims say they have managed to hold onto their faith, but hope to see a reform in the way the Diocese handles this type of abuse.

The Diocese of Little Rock issued this statement:

Fr. John McDaniel was included on a list of diocesan priests for whom
allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been admitted, substantiated
or determined or considered credible. When this list was released on
September 10, 2018 Bishop Anthony B. Taylor said, “This is being
published as part of the Diocese of Little Rock’s ongoing commitment to
transparency and to encourage persons sexually abused by clergy or
anyone working on behalf of the Church to come forward.”
Some of Fr. McDaniel’s victims did engage legal counsel to seek a
settlement for money from the diocese which was mediated by a mutually agreed upon third party in May.  There were no limits on confidentiality
in the agreement that was reached, which allows the victims who
participated in the settlement to release details at their discretion,
either themselves or through their attorneys
Now that this settlement has been made public, the diocese is in a
position to provide additional details which will inform its Catholic
faithful about how their money is being spent.
In the present case, the settlement was $790,000.  Travelers Insurance,
the carrier for the diocese at the time these victims were sexually
abused, paid $250,000.  The remaining $540,000 was paid from the
insurance fund of the diocese.
Anyone who has been sexually abused by clergy or anyone working on
behalf of the Church is strongly urged to first contact the civil
authorities by calling the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline (800-482-5964).
The Victims Assistance Coordinators for the diocese, Dr. George Simon
and Dr. Sherry Simon, are also available to offer assistance and can be
reached at (501-664-0340, ext. 425).

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