View Full Version : Catholic Church To Pay $660 Million For Abuse

07-15-2007, 06:47 PM
Catholic Church to pay $660 million for abuse


July 15, 2007

Hundreds of people who claim they were abused by clergy affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles can expect to be paid more than $1 million each in a $660 million (£325 million) settlement of their lawsuits.

The deal, by far the largest settlement in the Church’s sexual abuse scandal, was reached yesterday, said Ray Boucher, a lawyer representing the lead plaintiff, and pushes the amount paid out in compensation for abuse since 1950 to more than $2 billion.

Around 500 victims of sexual abuse, some of it dating back as far as the 1940s, will receive over $1.3 million each.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial tomorrow in Los Angeles Superior Court, focusing on 12 plaintiffs who accused a former priest, Clinton Hagenbach, of molesting them. Hagenbach died two decades ago.

One of those plaintiffs was Steven Sanchez who said that he was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. “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.”

Had the case gone to trial, lawyers had sought to put Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, in the uncomfortable position of testifying about the Church’s response to abuses dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Because the criminal statute of limitations has expired, victims in California and elsewhere have brought lawsuits against the Church over the issue.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Diocese, speaking a few hours before news of the deal emerged, would only say that church officials planned to be in court on Monday morning.

The judge hearing the case will have to approve the settlement.

David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the deal was by far the largest group settlement with the Catholic Church, although a handful of plaintiffs have received greater amounts on an individual basis than each is to receive from this settlement.

“It is never about the money,” Mr Clohessy said in an interview. “Victims want healing, prevention, closing, accountability.”

The diocese is expected to sell property to raise the settlement funds. The Los Angeles Times newspaper has estimated that the Los Angeles Archdiocese, America's largest, has real estate holdings worth more than $4 billion. Several US Catholic diocese with less substantial holdings have filed for bankruptcy protection in wake of the abuse scandal.

“Though it has always been the position of the Archdiocese that the insurance companies must honor their responsibility to fund a major share of future settlements, the Archdiocese must also be prepared to fund its share of these coming settlements,” Cardinal Mahony said in a statement earlier this year.

“This will require the Archdiocese to begin to dispose of non-essential real estate properties in order to raise funds for coming settlements, and to reevaluate some of the services and ministries it provides to parishes,” he said.

The Archdiocese also settled 46 cases in December for $60 million.

Mr Boucher said negotiations on the settlement nearly collapsed on Friday but were pulled back and concluded yesterday. He said a few religious orders named in the case - the Servites, Claretians and Oblates - declined to participate in the settlement.