Friday, December 01, 2006

LA Settlement... Part One

In the wake of the Baltimore meeting, word from inside was that the almost 570 pending abuse claims against the archdiocese of Los Angeles were a topic of intense interest among the bishops in their private conversations.

Within days of the meeting's close, a California judge lifted a three-year freeze on 100 of the cases, allowing them to proceed to the "discovery" phase, where cases are researched in advance of trial. And now, but a week after that decision, it's just been announced that 45 of the suits have been settled for $60 million.
"This is very important for us," [Cardinal Roger] Mahony said in a telephone interview this morning. "This is a major effort at healing and reconciliation."

Mahony also said that he offered his personal apologies to victims of abuse during weekly meetings this fall.
More from the wire:
Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiff's attorney, said the settlement involved 22 priests and was the largest settlement the Los Angeles archdiocese had reached "by far." He said more than $50 million (€37.75 million) would come from the archdiocese and about $8 million (€6 million) from religious orders.

"I wasn't certain we would ever get it done, but thankfully 45 very injured people will have a change to begin to heal, particularly at this time of the year," he said.

The Los Angeles archdiocese still faces more than 500 lawsuits from people who allege they were abused by about 200 priests and laypeople dating as far back as the 1930s.

The payout is the second-largest in California, behind the Diocese of Orange's 2004 agreement to spend $100 million (€75.5 million) to settle 90 abuse claims. It is also one of the fourth-largest in the U.S. since the clergy abuse crisis erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002, according to an Associated Press review.

Sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests has cost the U.S. church at least $1.5 billion (€1.13 billion) since 1950. Several American dioceses have reached multimillion-dollar settlements with victims in the last few years, as bishops have tried to resolve the crisis and move on.