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Thread: Abuses In Church

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    Senior Member Rasputin's Avatar
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    Exclamation Abuses In Church

    The Catholic Church in Los Angeles has reached a financial deal with more than 500 people alleging sexual abuse by priests, the plaintiffs' lawyer says.
    The deal, said to be for $660m (£324m), has yet to be approved by a judge.

    It would be the biggest compensation payment the Church has made since the sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2002.

    It would take the total paid out by the Church in the US to $2bn since 1950, with the LA diocese paying about one quarter of that.




    The settlement figures have not yet been officially announced.

    The diocese is expected to sell property to raise the compensation funds.

    Ray Boucher, lead plaintiff lawyer in the case, said the settlement also called for the release of confidential priest personnel files.

    "Transparency is a critical part of this and of all resolutions," he said.

    Healing process

    Steven Sanchez, a plaintiff in the case, said he was both relieved and disappointed by the outcome.

    "I was really emotionally ready to take on the archdiocese in court in less than 48 hours, but I'm glad all victims are going to be compensated," he said.

    "I hope all victims will find some type of healing in this process."

    David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said while it was the largest settlement by the Church, money was not the key objective for victims.

    "It is never about the money. Victims want healing, prevention, closing, accountability," he said.

    The diocese has not yet commented on the settlement but said Church officials planned to be in court on Monday morning.

    In a recent letter to parishioners, Cardinal Roger Mahony said the Church would be selling an administrative building and was considering the sale of about 50 other Church properties to raise funds for settlement.

    Since 2002 nearly 1,000 people have filed such claims against the Roman Catholic Church in California alone.

    In February 2004, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years.





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    Senior Member Rasputin's Avatar
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    Deal Reported in Sexual Abuse Cases in Los Angeles

    Lawyers for more than 500 people who say they were abused by Roman Catholic clergy members said last night that they had settled their lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for $660 million.

    If approved, it will be by far the largest payout made by any single diocese since the clergy sexual abuse scandals first became public in Boston in 2002. It will dwarf the $85 million paid for 552 claims by the Archdiocese of Boston.

    The lawyers in the Los Angeles cases said the settlement would be announced today, a day before jury selection was set to begin in the first of the cases. Any agreement would require a judge’s approval.

    Tod M. Tamberg, director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said in an e-mail message that the only comment he could make was, “The archdiocese will be in court Monday at 9:30 a.m.”

    A lawyer for the archdiocese did not return calls for comment.

    Raymond P. Boucher, the lawyer who is representing 242 of the plaintiffs in the Los Angeles cases, confirmed in a telephone interview yesterday that a deal would be announced today for $660 million.

    “Everything just fell into place,” Mr. Boucher said.

    The settlement, which archdiocese officials have said would require the sale of church property, appeared to bring the drawn-out legal wrangling to a close.

    “This will resolve all of the cases against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” said Katherine K. Freberg, an Irvine, Calif., lawyer who represents 109 plaintiffs. “It’s a global settlement.”

    The Los Angeles cases have been particularly complex because they involve so many victims, multiple insurance companies, many Catholic religious orders whose own priests and brothers stand accused, and a prominent archbishop, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who has cast himself as an ally of victims but has been accused by them of intransigence.

    Many dioceses in California have been hit by large numbers of lawsuits because the state passed a law in 2002 that opened a one-year window for cases to be filed without regard to the statute of limitations.

    Steven Sanchez, a 47-year old financial adviser who is one of the plaintiffs in the case set to begin on Monday, said he had been girding himself to testify about the abuse he suffered when he was 9 or 10 years old, and he said he wanted to see church officials called to account in a courtroom.

    Asked before the settlement was disclosed what he would do with any money he might receive, Mr. Sanchez said simply, “Where can you take that check and cash it that will make you 10 years old again?”

    Cardinal Mahony announced in May that, to raise money for a settlement, the archdiocese would sell its administrative building on Wilshire Boulevard and might sell about 50 other church properties that were not being used by parishes or schools.

    Mr. Boucher’s co-counsel, Laurence E. Drivon, said, “The primary motivation for the archdiocese to settle is that it is substantially likely that if they don’t resolve these cases they’re going to get hit” for much more than the settlement amount.

    The Associated Press was the first news organization to report on Saturday that the archdiocese had agreed to a settlement.

    Cardinal Mahony had been expected to be called to testify in the case that was set to begin on Monday, involving what the archdiocese knew about two decades of alleged abuse by one priest — the Rev. Clinton Hagenbach, who died in 1987. Cardinal Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985.

    The trial scheduled for Monday is only one of more than a dozen that had been set to start between now and January.

    A settlement would require the archdiocese to make public its confidential files that could shed light on which church officials knew of the abuse accusations, and when they knew, Mr. Boucher said. Many of the accused priests had multiple victims because they were moved by their superiors from one parish to another when accusations arose.

    Mary Grant, 44, is an abuse victim whose case was settled by the Diocese of Orange, in California, and is a plaintiff in the Los Angeles cases. Ms. Grant is Western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and counsels other victims. Earlier yesterday, she said any settlement in Los Angeles would be “a bitter release.”

    “We understand there are survivors who are desperately in need of medical care, therapy,” she said. “They may not be able to go through a trial. But on the other hand, there are many survivors really who’ve wanted their day in court.”

    She added: “It’s been a long, hard five-year battle for survivors in Los Angeles. So I think that probably a sense of temporary relief that may come from it.”

    The Los Angeles Archdiocese, its insurers and several Roman Catholic religious orders, including the Carmelites, the Franciscans and the Jesuits, have already paid a total of $114 million in several separate agreements, to settle 86 claims.

    Lawsuits over sexual abuse have already cost the Roman Catholic church in the United States more than $1.5 billion. Each diocese must handle the costs on its own, with no assistance from the Vatican.

    Settlements are far more common, and victims in California have consistently won some of the largest payouts. In California, the Diocese of Orange paid $100 million for 90 abuse claims in 2004 and the Diocese of Oakland paid $56 million to 56 people in 2005. The Diocese of Covington, in Kentucky, paid about $85 million to about 350 people.

    Five dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection: San Diego; Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Spokane, Wash.; and Tucson.

    David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said of the settlement: “They should feel incredibly proud, and Catholics should be very grateful to them. Without their courage, dozens of predators would still be unknown and maybe working in parishes today, and we would know absolutely nothing about who covered up these crimes.”

    Mr. Clohessy said, however, “We don’t know as much as we would have if some of these cases had gone to trial.”




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    Bishop dogged by abuse allegations dies

    Bishop Earl Paulk, a charismatic preacher brought down by a series of sex scandals, has died. He was 81.

    Paulk died near midnight Saturday at the Atlanta Medical Center, a nursing supervisor confirmed to CNN. The bishop had been at the hospital for several days, she said.

    Paulk's death came after an "extended and horrible battle with cancer," Paulk's nephew, Bishop Jim Swilley, wrote in a blog post.

    Paulk founded the Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta. It quickly grew to become one of the first megachurches in the country. Paulk also had his own television show.

    But his success as a preacher was overshadowed time and again by allegations of sexual impropriety.

    One allegation ended in a civil suit that was settled out of court in 2003. The accuser said Paulk molested her when she was a child.

    A second woman claimed the bishop forced her into a 14-year affair. She filed, withdrew and refiled a suit.

    Dennis Brewer, an attorney for Paulk, admitted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Paulk had a brief adulterous relationship with the woman, but said she was the initiator.

    During a deposition in the case, the bishop said under oath the woman was the only one he slept with outside of marriage. But a court-ordered paternity test showed that he also fathered a child with his sister-in-law.

    Other allegations -- some true, some unfounded -- cost the church membership, as worshippers dwindled from 10,000 to about 1,000.

    "As most of you know, my family has been walking through a very long nightmare season in connection with things concerning him," Swilley wrote in his blog post. "Please pray for some much needed healing and closure for us all."




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