Kansas City Diocese Ordered into Legal Arbitration
In Kansas City, 47 claimants are demanding that the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph submit proof that they upheld their end in a 2008 settlement over a sexual misconduct scandal involving two of their priests. The Reverend Shawn Ratigan is currently facing a federal trial on allegations of child pornography. The Reverend Michael Tierney, the other priest, is facing civil lawsuits claiming that he sexually abused the claimants when they were children. Both priests deny any wrongdoing, and Ratigan has plead not guilty to the charges against him.
Comments from the Diocese's Arbitration Attorney
David R. Frye, an attorney representing the diocese, claims that the church has upheld its end of the 2008 settlement. He goes further to say that the terms of the agreement are meant to only cover monetary disputes.
“An arbitrator overseeing the diocese on these issues in perpetuity?” Frye asked. “Not even the arbitrator would agree to that.”
Arbitration Lawyer for the Plaintiff Beg to Differ
Rebecca Randles, attorney for the plaintiffs, disagrees with Mr. Frye. She believes that the settlement includes any other disputes that arise in relation to the case. Further, according to Randles, “The diocese really wanted these things to go to an arbitrator if there was a disagreement.”
Jackson County Circuit Judge Peggy McGraw agreed. In the order to arbitration, she says that in the text of the agreement, it is unambiguous that it is not limited to monetary disputes. The contract contained a broad legal arbitration provision that included “any dispute regarding the contract or any related matters would be subject to arbitration.”