The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus is paying a $1 million settlement to a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. The settlement resolves a lawsuit from July 2018. The survivor said he was sexually abused by a Catholic school teacher as a student at St. Charles Preparatory School. St. Charles is an all-male school in Columbus, OH.
Columbus Diocese Settlement Details
The diocese announced the $1 million settlement in August 2020. The settlement does not require the diocese to admit guilt in the survivor’s case.
Sexual Abuse Allegation Against Monsignor Thomas Bennett
In the lawsuit, Kevin Heidtman accused Monsignor Thomas Bennett, a St. Charles Preparatory School teacher, of sexual abuse. Heidtman claims Bennett abused him approximately six times at St. Charles from 2002–2003. He also argued the diocese knew Bennett was abusing him and other St. Charles students but didn’t stop Bennett.
“The reason I decided to come forward and take this action is I think this is a fairly widespread problem. What really bothers me is it’s still happening and, potentially because I didn’t say anything, probably happened to other students after me and that’s really hard to deal with.”
According to the diocese, Bennett taught at St. Charles for 46 years. He passed away in 2008.
Original Lawsuit Against The Diocese
Heidtman filed the lawsuit against the diocese in July 2018. He initially sought at least $2 million in damages. However, he said his priority was having the diocese and St. Charles investigate his experiences.
Abuse Allegations Against The Columbus Diocese
In March 2019, the Columbus Diocese published a list of credibly accused clergy. To compile the list, the diocese investigated almost 2,000 clergy members dating back to 1868. The list includes about 50 clergy members.
Bennett is not listed on the diocese’s list of credibly accused clergy. In November 2020, the diocese added a footnote to the list. The footnote says the lawsuit regarding Bennett is complete, but the diocese has not yet determined the credibility of accusations against him.
Catholic dioceses across the country have released similar lists of accused clergy members. Review our complete, nationwide searchable database today.
Survivors of abuse by clergy members in the Columbus Diocese can report their abuse to law enforcement, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service, and/or the diocese. To report abuse to the Columbus Diocese, please contact the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator by phone at 614-224-2251 or email at [email protected].
Victims may also choose to seek legal action, like Heidtman did, against their abusers or the institutions that shielded their abusers.
King, D. (2020, August 26). Diocese settles priest sexual abuse case for $1 million. The Columbus Dispatch.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. (Updated 2020, November 6). Clergy Credibly Accused of Abuse of a Minor.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. (N.D.) Reporting Bishop Abuse.
(2020, August 26). Diocese of Columbus announces $1 million settlement to former St. Charles student. NBC4.