A victim of clergy abuse urged other survivors to come forward on Tuesday as lawyers revealed that the Catholic Church in Chicago had paid out more than $80 million in sexual assault cases.
Joe Iacono, who says he was abused by his parish priest when he was 11, spoke at a news conference as Jeff Anderson and Associates announced it had made $80,080,000 for 160 victims of 48 priests over the last two decades.
"I know today that there are still a lot of survivors that are suffering in silence. Those individuals need to reach out," Iacono said as he opened up about his recovery, appearing at times choked with emotion.
Attorney Jeff Anderson said the payouts varied from five figures for some victims to more than $1 million. In each case the cash failed to bring closure, he added, although the abusers were removed from their positions.
"Payment of money in a case does not bring healing, it does not make their pain go away," Anderson said.
"But standing up for yourself and giving voice to your truth as a survivor, and knowing you have done something to protect other kids, is helpful."
The Catholic Church has been rocked by thousands of reports of sexual abuse by priests and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy, starting in the Boston archdiocese in the United States in 2002.
The Vatican admitted in 2012 the number of abused American minors was probably close to 100 000.
Iacono, who settled his case against the Chicago Archdiocese 15 years ago, came forward after reading about the Boston scandal.
"I feel as though I got a lot of my power back because the Church admitted that this happened," he said.
"They knew that my abuser was actively abusing children of my age, and I was about 11 years old at that time and Jeff helped me through the entire process."