July 12, 2005

Background Check

The Oregonian

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dogged by sexual-abuse lawsuits since 1997, the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., in September became the second U.S. diocese to plunge into bankruptcy.

It soon will become the first to emerge.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar on Monday approved the diocese's plan to make $22.2 million available for settlements. Seventy-seven claims asserting sex abuse by priests have been approved or are pending.

Individual settlements will range from $100,000 to $600,000, depending on the circumstances of the case.

The key to the case has been the claimants' agreement to ignore the controversial issue of parish property ownership. In return for avoiding litigation that could drag on for five to 10 years, the claimants were able to negotiate a plan that would pay them promptly.

Also, unlike Portland and Spokane, the Tucson diocese will not have to worry about future claims filed by men and women who realize they've been abused but haven't yet connected the abuse to adult injuries such as emotional and mental problems. Instead, future claimants are restricted to minors whose parents or guardians haven't filed claims on their behalf or people who don't recall the abuse because of repressed memory.

Posted by kshaw at July 12, 2005 04:21 PM