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Honolulu diocese reaches settlement in priest sex case

HILO, Hawaii >> The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu has settled a lawsuit alleging a retired Big Island priest sexually abused two boys decades ago, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Oahu Attorney Mark Gallagher said the settlement of the 2013 lawsuit only concerns the diocese and no claims have been dismissed against Father George DeCosta, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Wednesday.

The alleged victims in the case say the abuse took place in the 1960s when they were students at Damien Memorial School in Honolulu and DeCosta was the school chaplain.

The lawsuit is one of three filed against the diocese alleging sexual abuse by DeCosta and that the diocese knew or should have known about the abuse.

No settlements have been reached in the other two cases, which involve two other alleged victims and were filed in April 2016, Gallagher said.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu spokeswoman Laurie LaGrange said in an email the diocese “has made no settlements on DeCosta’s behalf, nor have they covered any of his attorney fees.”

She said the diocese is unable to discuss or provide more information on the cases due to court orders from the mediation process.

“Any information concerning plaintiffs will need to come from the plaintiffs themselves or their attorneys,” LaGrange wrote.

The settlement had not yet been posted on the state judiciary’s website as of Tuesday. Gallagher said the terms of the agreement are not confidential but his clients have not given him authorization “to share any of the details.”

DeCosta and his attorney, Jared Washkowitz, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

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