Attorneys for Hanna Boys Center abuse victims announce $6.8 million settlement involving Santa Rosa Diocese
Lawyers for two brothers who were sexually abused by a former Hanna Boys Center clinical director announced Tuesday a $6.8 million settlement with the Sonoma Valley boys home and the affiliated Santa Rosa Diocese of the Catholic church.
It appears to be the largest single settlement over about a quarter century of sex abuse cases involving the Santa Rosa diocese, which as of May had paid out at least $31 million in settlements to victims of clergy abuse.
The settlement resolves a pair of lawsuits filed by the two brothers for suffering they endured as residents of the facility and well after they were no longer in contact with the clinical director, Kevin Thorpe, who was fired after his arrest two years ago and is now serving a 21-year prison sentence.
Southern California attorney Vince Finaldi, part of a team that worked on the case, said his clients, now in their 20s, are still working through the trauma of what were already troubled lives when they became victims of Thorpe, their case worker at the residential treatment facility.
“These are brave kids, that in many ways did not have any of the breaks that a lot of kids in America get,” Finaldi said. “They were born into a horrible home and horrible circumstances, and they found their way to the Hanna Boys Center and were targeted by this person and were not protected by the people who were supposed to protect them.”
Lawyers and representatives for the diocese and for Hanna Boys Center did not respond to numerous requests for comment and did not confirm the settlement Tuesday.
Hanna Boys Center Chief Executive Officer Brian Farragher said he was unsure a settlement was final and declined to comment until he could reach the nonprofit’s attorney, who was unavailable.
Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who like his predecessors, sits on the board of trustees for the boys home, was not available for comment.
Finaldi said he was unable Tuesday to provide documents that would independently confirm the existence of the private settlement. The case was settled out of court through a mediator, he said.
He and Alex Cunny, a partner in their Irvine-based law firm, said the settlement was finalized about a month ago, before a June 7 trial, and the money had already been paid out. It was unclear to Finaldi how much the diocese, the boys center and their insurers each contributed to the sum.
The victims’ attorneys said they hoped the resolution would help their clients, who saw their abuser convicted a year ago in a no-contest plea deal. The criminal case against Thorpe, including 61 felony counts, stemmed from his abuse of four boys, including the two brothers. He is currently imprisoned in Corcoran and is eligible for parole in 2034.
Prosecution and conviction “is public affirmation that the abuse happened, and it’s punishment of their abusers,” Finaldi said. “It’s one step in their journey. But a lot of survivors don’t get that.”
The two young men have good and bad days, Finaldi said, and still have “these demons they have to deal with.”
During Thorpe’s sentencing last August, the younger boy, in a letter read aloud in court, described Thorpe’s presence as “a shadow I can’t escape.”
“Because of this, I can’t find joy in life anymore without these thoughts ruining it,” he wrote. “Sometimes I contemplate suicide. You didn’t just sexually abuse me. You groomed me to believe it was my fault.”