ABUSE CASE SETTLEMENT (Rockville Centre will pay thousands, write apology to Florida man allegedly molested by former Long Island clergyman)
The Diocese of Rockville Centre will pay tens of thousands of dollars to a Florida man who said he was molested by Matthew Fitzgerald, a priest who was quietly transferred in 1989 from Long Island to Palm Beach after allegations were made that he sexually abused boys at Roman Catholic parishes here. As part of a settlement, Bishop William Murphy will write a letter of apology to the abuse victim for the actions of the diocese, which was then headed by the late Bishop John McGann. The man was 15 when he was molested by Fitzgerald from 1991 to 1992 at his Florida home when the priest would visit the boy's devout parents. The teenager sought advice from Fitzgerald after he was touched sexually by a teacher at his Catholic middle school. The Dioceses of Rockville Centre and Palm Beach will both pay the settlement, which is described as substantially more than $100,000. Fitzgerald was defrocked by the Vatican in 2002.