January 13, 2006

O'Malley weathers another round of abuse crisis negotiations


By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press Writer | January 13, 2006

BOSTON --Archbishop Sean O'Malley has been here before, caught between the financial needs of the Roman Catholic Church and the fury of alleged sex abuse victims and other parishioners. This time, a satisfying resolution may be tougher to find.

Less than three years ago, O'Malley personally oversaw negotiations in what was then the largest legal settlement of its kind: an $85 million deal to settle more than 500 lawsuits claiming sex abuse by priests. Afterward, both sides said it was time for the healing to begin.

But recent news that church lawyers were negotiating with 200 more alleged victims has brought back much of the bitterness.

Attorneys dismissed as "demeaning" the archdiocese's proposal for an average settlement of $75,000 for the new plaintiffs. They said these victims were being treated differently than those who came forward at the height of the sex abuse scandal, who received an average settlement of $155,000.

Church officials say they can't afford to pay more because the earlier settlement and declining attendance have left the archdiocese in a tough financial situation. And their lawyers say the other side has compromised the negotiations by taking their gripes to the media.

Posted by kshaw at January 13, 2006 08:11 AM