October 06, 2005

Juries likely to hear sex-abuse claims

The Oregonian

Thursday, October 06, 2005
Dozens of priest sexual-abuse claims appear headed for jury trials following the crash-landing of recent settlement talks between plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland.

A lawyer for the archdiocese told a U.S. bankruptcy judge Wednesday that 16 out of 60 plaintiffs agreed to confidential dollar amounts during negotiations. But most of the 16 have locked horns with the archdiocese over the question of what happens if the church fails to make good on its promise to pay.

"That issue is still the stumbling block between the parties," said Thomas V. Dulcich, one of the lawyers defending the archdiocese against lawsuits alleging child sex abuse by its priests.

Dulcich also reported that 14 additional claimants were still in discussions, two failed to appear and two "passed away." Two men scheduled for mediations committed suicide in recent months, prompting the archdiocese and plaintiffs' attorneys to jointly ask the bankruptcy court for permission to pay for emergency counseling for other plaintiffs.

Dulcich added that 26 other plaintiffs who had sued the state of Oregon, as well as made claims against the archdiocese, withdrew from settlement talks. Those 26 are mostly former inmates of the state's former MacLaren School for Boys, now known as the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, who allege abuse by prison chaplains.

Posted by kshaw at October 6, 2005 09:35 AM