By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Church settles abuse case out of court

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If all the facts of this case are present in this story, I don't get it!

"As both Steele and his wife are deceased, no one was available to testify in his defense. However, when the lawsuit was filed, his adult children issued a statement denying the allegations."

If no one was able to testify [defend] Mr. Steele, is he automatically guilty? Reading the story makes it sound like he is. Is he guilty because the church agreed to settle out of court? I wish I could understand the law pertaining to this.


There should be no presumption of guilt.

I'm not sure whether it was actually the church that made the decision to settle or its insurance company. It's usually the insurance company, which makes a cold calculation of potential gains and losses, then opts for the decision making the most actuarial and mathematical sense.

While the terms were not disclosed, and I am not privy to them, I suspect the payout here was pretty modest. And I suspect it was covered by an insurance company to the extent it exceeded the deductible, typically about $5,000.

These are challenging cases for all concerned. The incentive to settle is very high, as both proving and disproving are very dicey and difficult propositions.

Steve Bagwell
Managing Editor


Are the names of the two sisters public knowledge?

Just Lookin

Making the names of the sisters public would be a nice idea. They wanted $$$, with no proof of guilt on his part. But then again a lot of people want to sue for whatever reason, just because they can. Waiting this long seems a bit odd, but $$$ will work I suppose.


I was around 10 years old around that time in the 60's....Bill and his family were family friends, as well as church brothers and sisters to us. NEVER, EVER did Bill ever behave in a fashion other than a kind, sweet man. Never could he have been capable of such an evil thing. I didn't get asked to testify, but I was interviewed a few times during the allegations. I pray that my testimony toward his fine character helped clear his name and legacy. I pray the family can heal from this. He was a God fearing follower, and his beliefs were strong. And, in defense of the Nazarene church....the church never would have tolerated such a thing if they knew it was happening. I grew up in that was my life. I KNOW that type of thing never happened..... I was in those Sunday school rooms...later a Sunday school teacher...later on the church board. My dad was a deacon with Bill...friends with Bill...the worse he ever did was give us kids gum at church, and we'd hide it under the church pews after we chewed it.


no one can know for sure whether it happened or not, only the victims and the accused -- how many times has a teacher been "the perfect teacher" and they turn out to be abusers, or "a wonderful uncle", or "a great coach" etc, etc. the fact is, most abusers seem like great people to the public and lead a completely different private life....I'm not saying this guy is guilty or not guilty I'm saying no one, not his kids or ex-friends (schuster) or his wife if she was alive, would know for sure. You can only testify as to how he was with YOU not with others. If he is guilty, he is paying for his sins no matter where he is.


"NEVER, EVER did Bill ever behave in a fashion other than a kind, sweet man. Never could he have been capable of such an evil thing. "

Appearances can be deceiving. Child molesters don't often look the part. In fact, they are often upstanding people in the community. The point is that they don't want to be suspected.

I'm not saying this guy was guilty, but him appearing to be a good guy is not proof that he was innocent.


I wonder how people can make accusations fifty years supposedly after the incident, not make their names known, no witnesses, and then receive a settlement. Sounds like a great gig.

I am disappointed that the Church/insurance company made a settlement. Something is missing. I wish the News-Register would dig another level deeper in the information.

skull crusher

Pretty sick if these women are lying about this. Pretty sick if the guy did this to them also!

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