January 09, 2005

Sex abuse claims could cost diocese $1.6 billion

Ventura County Star

By Tom Kisken, tkisken@VenturaCountyStar.com
January 9, 2005

More than 540 child molestation claims against the Catholic diocese that includes Ventura County could be settled before summer at a cost as high as $1.6 billion. If negotiations fail, the church could be put on trial in a civil court marathon that takes three decades to complete.

The contrasting extremes only increase Ann Sargent's desire for what alleged molestation victims in Orange County received Monday when a judge announced details of a record-setting $100 million settlement with the Diocese of Orange:

An ending.

"There was closure," said Sargent, who alleges she was molested by an Oxnard priest when she was about 15. "They wouldn't be required to rehash it for some stranger again."

Three years after a trickle of child molestation allegations against priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles swelled into a flood that includes at least 11 former Ventura County priests accused of abusing 136 people, the scandal's path to a final chapter is obstructed by caveats and contradictions.

A Los Angeles church official says a settlement offer could come within a month, but lawyers are scheduled to meet with a judge this week to plan the first wave of trials.

Posted by kshaw at January 9, 2005 05:24 AM