Snapping Up Cash


In Forbes, Daniel Lyons probes the increasing flow of money from plaintiffs' lawyers to advocacy groups for victims of sexual abuse by priests. [Free registration required] Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), got between $30,000 and $50,000 of its $140,000 budget last year from donations from two lawyers. Some other groups have done even better:

The 3,000-member Linkup lists as its largest donor an Oregon plaintiff lawyer who has 50 clergy cases pending and last year made a $100,000 joint donation with a client who received a settlement from a religious order. The lawyer, Michael S. Morey, says the client put up two-thirds of the $100,000. Another Linkup donor is Joseph Klest, a lawyer who has handled more than 50 Catholic clergy cases in Illinois and who gave $2,615 to Linkup last year, according to Linkup's IRS filing.

Linkup's president, Susan Archibald, says she hopes to get a donation from William McMurry, a plaintiff lawyer in a recent $25.7 million settlement from Louisville's Catholic archdiocese. McMurry says he has made no promises.

Margate N.J.-based attorney Stephen C. Rubino, showing some of that fine ethical sense that makes Margatians the finest bunch of folks this country has to offer, does not show up in the rogues gallery here.

Unethical as these contributions may be, they're still less objectionable than using the bucks my aunt has been throwing into the collection basket all these years to pay hush money while re-assigning abusive priests. And while it's clear there are many greedy victims and "victims" looking to cash in at this point, this whole affair has (so far) been remarkably free of civil misconduct and prosecutorial abuse. Still, as these cases unfold, a good bullshit detector is a must.