Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Catholic panel head named

Board to distribute $3M to clergy sex abuse victims

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati attorney Robert Stachlerhas been named to chair a three-person panel that will disburse up to $3 million to victims of Catholic clergy abuse in Greater Cincinnati.

Stachler was chosen Monday by the other two panel members - former Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Nurre, named to the panel by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office, and former Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Ann-Marie Tracey, selected by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Members of the legal community called Stachler an excellent attorney and a fair man.

The panel and the victims' compensation fund were established in November as part of a settlement between the archdiocese and the prosecutor.

As part of the deal, the archdiocese pleaded no contest to charges that church officials failed to report allegations of sexual abuse involving priests more than 20 years ago. The church was convicted of failure to report a crime.

Church officials have said they will raise $3 million from the sale of unneeded church property and will then turn the money over to the panel, which will evaluate each case and determine how much money, if any, alleged victims should receive.

Nurre called Stachler on Monday afternoon asking him to chair the committee.

"It came as a shock," said Stachler, who is Catholic.

Stachler said he would try to be as fair as possible and looks forward to working with Nurre and Tracey.

"I'm anxious to do what I can for people who only have this fund as a remedy because the statute of limitations has run out on their case," said Stachler, 73. He's lived in Cincinnati since attending law school at the University of Cincinnati.

Stachler has been a trial lawyer for 44 years and spent 30 years overseeing the litigation department of Taft, Stettinius, Hollister law firm.

Still counsel with the firm, Stachler represents the Bengals. He also represented Pete Rose in his case against the commissioner of baseball.

"It's a wonderful pick," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen. "He has a strong background in civil litigation which will be helpful."

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati could not be reached for comment.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadelsaid that over the years he's found Stachler to be fair.

"He can see both sides of a situation," Nadel said.

Robert A. Pitcairn Jr. of the law firm Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild has known Stachler for more than 30 years.

"In my opinion, he is dean of Cincinnati trial lawyers," Pitcairn said. "He's been involved in most of the significant lawsuits that have been litigated in Cincinnati."


E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com

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