January 06, 2006

Talks on Sex Abuse by Priests Restarted

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione and Glenn F. Bunting, Times Staff Writers

After several years of fitful negotiations, the Los Angeles Archdiocese and attorneys for about 45 alleged victims of sexual abuse are moving toward settlements that would pay out an average of at least $1 million per claim and resolve many cases that have occurred during the tenure of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, according to lawyers familiar with the discussions.

Although the agreement would involve fewer than 10% of the more than 560 cases pending against the archdiocese, the resolution of cases involving alleged clergy abuse since Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985 would have great significance.

If concluded as currently described, the settlement of the 45 cases would become the third largest in the nationwide clergy sex abuse scandal. It would also set a tentative benchmark for the total cost of the remaining cases against the archdiocese, which is the nation's biggest. Plaintiffs' lawyers have said the total could surpass $1 billion a figure that would dwarf all previous payouts by the Catholic Church in such cases.

And, according to sources close to the negotiations, the settlement would include some of the archdiocese's most notable cases: those involving Michael Baker, Richard Henry, Carlos Rodriguez and Michael Wempe. Despite earlier abuse allegations against them, the clergymen allegedly molested children after Mahony allowed them to remain in ministry without alerting police or parishioners.

Posted by kshaw at January 6, 2006 07:50 AM