LAW FIRM MOVES AGAINST DIOCESE (Files suit alleging secret settlement in abuse claims)

Resnikoff and Viscio, a Garden City law firm, has filed a racketeering lawsuit against the Diocese of Rockville Centre claiming that its legal counsel, Msgr. Alan Placa, conspired with two of the firm's clients to secretly settle sexual abuse claims against the diocese, depriving the firm of $100,000 in legal fees.  The firm filed suit Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Mineola, claiming that the diocese recently reached settlements of $150,000 each with two women the firm said it had represented in earlier litigation.  Four years ago Judith Cajigas of Riverhead and Patricia Hastings, who lives out of state, sued for damages on complaints that they were sexually abused by the Rev. John Mott, a now-deceased priest who supervised their cheerleading squad in the late 1950s when they attended elementary school at St. Raphael's in East Meadow.  Their lawsuits were dismissed in 1998 because their complaints were too old.  A Suffolk grand jury is investigating whether top church officials, including Placa, obstructed justice in the handling of complaints about sex abuse by priests.  Placa has faced criticism for his actions in some cases, including one in which he paid a lump sum payment in 1993 to Raymond Trypuc, a drug addict, after the young man had quit therapy.  Weeks after receiving the payment, he was found dead of a cocaine overdose.

(New York)