Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Spokane Coughs Up

The diocese of USCCB president William Skylstad settles 75 claims for $45.7 million....

The terms go way beyond the money, though.
In addition to the monetary awards, the settlement proposal contains noneconomic conditions, including commitments by the diocese to prevent future cases of abuse, Stang and others said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

Bishop William Skylstad would go to each parish where abuse occurred to identify the errant clergy; individuals who were abused would be given the opportunity to address parishes; and the diocesan newspaper would devote space to victims to write about their experiences, Stang said.

The diocese would also refrain from referring to victims as "alleged victims," Stang said.

The proposal calls for Skylstad to advocate for abolition of statutes of limitations on sex crimes, and to write letters to individuals who were abused and to their families, Stang said.

The diocese would also add two members from the victims' Tort Litigants Committee to its board that reviews clergy sex abuse complaints.

In a later news conference, Skylstad, who is also head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, publicly apologized to the victims "for the terrible wrongs inflicted on you in the past" and urged Catholics to accept the proposed settlement.

"To those of you who say this settlement will be a burden, I would say that this scandal is a burden we can no longer afford not to resolve," Skylstad said.

The bishop also committed individual parishes to helping to pay for settlement costs not covered by insurance companies.

"We, as a Catholic community, are willing to shoulder our fair share of the burden and take responsibility for significant portions of the total anticipated expense," Skylstad said.