Sun, Dec. 08

Diocese Settlement Near

Tom Groom said, "it's never quite over, but it's a start. Now the healing can begin."

A bankruptcy judge Monday approved a plan that would settle clergy sexual abuse claims against the Tucson Catholic Diocese.

Groom, a Clarkdale accountant and a childhood abuse victim, served as one of five members of a court-appointed tort creditors committee that reviewed 103 claims against the Diocese. The settlement is worth $22 million.

Groom says the bankruptcy is a "business transaction with a unique twist." He said, "the human side is not typical and every claimant has his own story."

His own abuse goes back to St. Gregory's Catholic Church in Phoenix when he was a 13-year-old alter boy. His abuser, The Rev. Robert Gulch, is now dead.

Groom's claim was originally filed in Superior Court in 2002 and was among the first tier of claims approved under the bankruptcy settlement. He says 30 claims have been settled, 20 are "compromise claims," 20 more will have further review and 30 were thrown out as frivolous.

His own settlement is $425,000.

While the bankruptcy settlement is coming to a close, his role on the creditors committee could also continue for years. There is a class of "unknown claims." Those are people whose memories of abuse may still be buried and resurface later in life, like Groom's own memories.

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