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Saturday, December 3, 2016
USA: Archdiocese of Los Angeles to pay record £330 million in abuse claim settlements
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¬†The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed on Saturday to pay $660 million (about £330m) in compensation to 508 people who accused priests, brothers and lay staff of sexual abuse. The settlement resolves the last of about 570 claims of abuse against 221 priests, brothers, lay teachers and other church employees spanning 70 years. Lawyers had been scheduled to go to court today, for the first of 15 scheduled civil trials pitting alleged victims against the archdiocese and individual priests. Instead, LA County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz, who had been scheduled to try the first case, will be presented with the pact for final approval. Settling before the legal marathon means that the Church will not have to pay potentially huge damages, Cardinal Roger Mahony will not be called to testify, nor will plaintiffs have to appear in court. The agreement ends all pending abuse litigation against the Archdiocese and marks the end of the tragic saga that has spanned decades. More than $114 million (£57m) has been promised in previous settlements, bringing the total liability for clergy and church staff misconduct in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to more than $774 million (£387). The figure dwarfs compensation payments made in other America dioceses. Boston paid out $157 million (£78m) and Portland, Oregon paid $129 million (£64m) A spokesman said the Church expected to pay $250 million in cash, with the balance coming from insurers and religious orders. "Parish assets will not be touched, and the mission of the church will be impacted but not crippled." As part of the settlement, the archdiocese has agreed that it will no longer contest the release of files to the public, one of the attorneys in the lawsuits said. A private judge will mediate any objections from individual priests. Individuals will receive an average of about $1.3 million each. At a press conference outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Saturday, a member of a victim support group, Mary Ferrell, said: "That amount of money is impressive in that it shows tremendous guilt. But I didn't file for the money.... I would give back the money if I could have my childhood back." Anne Burke, an Illinois Supreme Court justice and former chairwoman of the National Review Board, a panel of lay Catholics formed by US bishops in 2002, said: "The diocese has finally conceded the fact that everyone needs to move on." She added: "I think it was prolonged longer than it should have been because the diocese proceeded to fight. Consequently, it's been a long, long time ... and it prolonged the agony of it all." Sources: Archdiocese of Los Angeles/LA Times
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