Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Cook, Diocese Settle in Sex Abuse Lawsuit; Other Allegations Still under Review

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Cook, Diocese Settle in Sex Abuse Lawsuit; Other Allegations Still under Review

Article excerpt

The Cincinnati archdiocese and Steven J. Cook reached an out-of-court settlement last week in his $10 million sexual abuse lawsuit against the church and Fr. Ellis N. Harsham. The priest, however, is still under investigation for other allegations of abuse.

Meanwhile, Harsham, 52, continues his duties as a priest and as head of a campus ministry program at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

The settlement, for an undisclosed amount, ends a sensational lawsuit that until February included Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago as a defendant. Cook dropped the case against Bernardin, stating he believed his memory of an alleged incident involving the then-archbishop of Cincinnati was unreliable.

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk confirmed that a settlement had been reached in a news briefing April 18. In a prepared statement Pilarczyk said the amount and terms of the settlement are confidential. But he added, "I wish to emphasize that it is far less than the archdiocese would have expended to bring this matter to trial." The trial was scheduled to begin in May.

Cook, 34, a graduate of Elder Catholic High School in Cincinnati, filed his suit last Nov. 12, charging that Harsham had sexually assaulted him while he was in high school and enrolled in a pre-seminary program at St. Gregory Seminary in the 1970s.

Cook's attorney, Andrew Lipton, in an interview with NCR, said Cook, who has AIDS, decided to settle because of deteriorating physical condition. …

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