January 04, 2005

Orange County Diocese Settles Priest Abuse Cases

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange formally agreed today to pay a record $100 million in damages for the sexual abuse inflicted by its priests, ending two years of intense negotiations to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Bishop Tod D. Brown knelt in prayer and asked for healing of the 87 victims in a public apology made hours after the settlement was announced. A preliminary agreement was unveiled in early December.

Many observers said the agreement puts pressure on Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other U.S. bishops to follow Brown's lead in putting the 3-year-old clergy sex scandal behind them. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is negotiating with its insurers and plaintiffs' lawyers over roughly 500 sexual abuse claims.

"The Diocese of Orange has entered into this settlement agreement in the hope that it can bring healing to those who have been abused," Brown told a room packed with lawyers, victims, their advocates and the media.

Brown, who became bishop in 1998, has set himself apart from most other U.S. bishops by entering into the nation's largest financial settlement between the Catholic Church and alleged victims. He also agreed to accept disclosure of internal church documents.

Posted by kshaw at January 4, 2005 03:34 AM