5 victims of sexual abuse reach settlements with Archdiocese of Newark

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Five people who say they were sexually abused by a New Jersey priest have reached settlements with the Archdiocese of Newark.

Danielle Polemeni says that Father Mitch Walters sexually abused her between the ages of 12 and 14. Polemeni was a student at Saint Cassian’s School in Montclair, where Walters was a parish priest.

Four men have also made allegations against Walters. The five announced Monday that they settled for $80,000 each. They are accusing the archdiocese of not doing enough to protect them.

“Why weren’t they watching Father Mitch Walters,” asks attorney Mitch Garabedian.

RELATED: Catholic Church to release names of NJ priest accused of abuse 
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Garabedian says that the archdiocese is blaming the victims with its claiming contributory negligence in court papers.

"That is one of the most disgusting comments I have heard. A child cannot be complicit in his or her own abuse,” Garabedian says.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark says in a statement, "The legal language filed on behalf of the Archdiocese is a standard response to these types of cases. It is unfortunate and extremely disingenuous for the plaintiff counsel to call out such language and mischaracterize it so as to sensationalize the case for heightened media attention.”

The statement continued, “The Archdiocese of Newark is working diligently towards the healing and reconciliation of survivors and seeks to resolve all claims, whether through mediation or otherwise. We are hopeful that the settlement of these five claims will begin the healing process for the victims-survivors, and we continue to work toward the resolutions of similar matters.”

The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General announced last year an investigation into claims of sexual abuse within the New Jersey Catholic dioceses.

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