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Delaware court orders $30 million payment to abuse victim

December 02, 2010

A Delaware jury has awarded a stunning $30 million in compensatory damages to a man who said he was abused by a Catholic priest.

The abuse victim, John Vai, persuaded the jury that St. Elizabeth’s parish in Wilmington should be held responsible for gross negligence, because other parish personnel had reason to be aware that Vai was being molested by Francis DeLuca, a priest who has since been laicized.

The case is unusual not only because of the large damage award, but also because the jury held the parish accountable for failure to supervise the offending priest, rather than the diocese. The parish will be expected to pay $2 million, with the remaining $28 million to come from DeLuca. It is not clear how the laicized priest could pay that sum. The jury's award on December 1 included only compensatory damages; punitive damages are likely to be added on top of the $30 figure.


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