The Archdiocese of Boston has reached a provisional $10 million agreement with victims of a defrocked priest, John Geoghan, whose sexual abuse of minors set off the scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church in America this year, the Boston Globe reported this week. The agreement could end lawsuits by 86 people who claimed to have been abused by Geoghan and foreclose a ruling about whether Cardinal Bernard Law improperly backed out of a settlement last spring, worth up to $30 million. Judge Constance Sweeney of Superior Court is due to rule on the validity of the earlier settlement shortly. A church spokesman said the archdiocese's insurance policies would not cover the full $10 million but called the amount "workable" for the archdiocese and said it would not set a precedent preventing the church from being able to pay for settlements in the scores of other lawsuits that have since been filed concerning priests accused of abuse. The Geoghan case appeared to be settled in March, when after nearly a year of negotiations, the archdiocese said an agreement had been reached to pay the 86 plaintiffs $14.9 million to $29.8 million. Two months later, the archdiocese backed out, saying the finance council, composed mostly of lay businessmen, refused to authorize the expenditure, arguing that if the archdiocese abided by the agreement, it would not be able to afford to settle other abuse cases. J Owen Todd, Cardinal Law's personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that the agreement was still "tentative," because only 85 of Geoghan's 86 victims had approved it. By law, all plaintiffs must agree before the settlement is complete. In a separate development, Paul Edwards, 35, who had accused a senior archdiocesan official of molesting him in the 1980's officially withdrew his suit in Suffolk County after it emerged he had a history of misrepresenting events in his life.
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