Friday, December 01, 2006

L.A. archdiocese agrees to pay $60 million in 45 abuse cases...over 500 cases still pending

The Los Angeles Times reported today that:

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony announced this morning that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $60 million to settle 45 claims of clergy sexual abuse.

But the lead lawyer for the alleged victims said the final details of the settlement are still being negotiated.

"This is very important for us," Mahony said in a telephone interview this morning. "This is a major effort at healing and reconciliation."

Mahony said the settlement would not adversely impact parish functions or ministries. "We set aside last year $40 million for this settlement. While it is painful, no parishes are affected," he said.

The settlement would be the first by the archdiocese and would represent 8% of the 562 cases brought by people who claimed the archdiocese failed to protect them from pedophile priests.

The average award to each claimant — $1.3 million — would be among the highest of the major sex abuse settlements against the Catholic Church in the United States.

Mahony said there will be "more pain" as the rest of the claims are settled. "We will be looking at some lessening of our services and ministries."

Raymond P. Boucher, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said both sides are still negotiating whether and how confidential church documents on priests accused of sexual misconduct would be released to the public.

"If we are able to put the finishing touches on this deal, then it will be a historic day. Forty-five victims have been waiting a year to get these cases resolved, and finally it looks like we are on the verge of doing so," Boucher said.

The deal would include claims from the last 20 years, during which Mahony was the spiritual head of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese.

The 45 cases involve those classified as underinsured or uninsured. In 1986, a year after Mahony took office, liability insurance coverage ended for the church.

Mahony said he offered his personal apologies to victims of abuse during weekly meetings this fall at the civil courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, a block from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

"For me personally, it's been a great time to be in this part of the journey of these people," he said today. "Not everyone is at a point of forgiveness on their part, but everyone needs an apology from me."

Barbara Dorris, a spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, however, warned that "this settlement should be seen as what it is: a purely business decision by Mahony, and nothing more."

"Cardinal Mahony's goal has always been self-preservation. He desperately wants to avoid trials at which horrific and shocking secrets about the church cover-ups of child sexual abuse will be exposed. This settlement doesn't signal or suggest any change whatsoever in Mahony's M.O."

The complete story may be found here:,0,2708723.story?coll=la-home-headlines


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