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Columbus Diocese Reaches $1 Million Settlement Over Alleged Abuse At St. Charles

St. Charles Preparatory School
St. Charles Preparatory School

The Catholic Diocese of Columbus has reached a $1 million settlement with a former student of St. Charles Preparatory School over allegations of sexual abuse by a priest.

In 2018, the student filed a lawsuit alleging that he was sexually molested on at least six separate occasions between 2002-2003 by Monsignor Thomas Bennett, a teacher at St. Charles, while on school grounds. Bennett died in 2008 after serving for more than 40 years in the diocese.

The lawsuit alleges that St. Charles and the Columbus diocese were aware of Bennett's behaviors but failed to take action.

In a press release Wednesday, Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan said that neither party made any admissions of guilt as part of the settlement.

"During Msgr. Bennett’s lifetime, and up to the time St. Charles was notified of the young man’s allegation against Msgr. Bennett, neither St. Charles nor the Diocese of Columbus had ever received any abuse allegation against Msgr. Bennett," the diocese says.

The accuser, who remains anonymous, told WOSU and other reporters in 2018 that he served detentions supervised by Bennett, where the priest began touching him inappropriately.

“Eventually as things progressed, I had a couple of detentions with him alone. That’s when things got more physical,” the man said. "Originally just over clothing but then eventually underneath.”

The man says he failed out of St. Charles and became addicted to methamphetamines.

“Happened a couple of times, and there was always a real strong message from him that it wasn’t to be discussed,” the man said. “In a fairly Catholic community, it wasn’t something we talked about.”

The $1 million settlement is being taken from an existing fund for general liability insurance.

A database maintained by the Columbus Diocese currently lists 50 clergy members credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.