February 02, 2006

Rare Kind of Scandal Accord in Spokane Diocese

The New York Times

Published: February 2, 2006
SEATTLE, Feb. 1 The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Wash., one of three in the country to have filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandals, agreed Wednesday to pay nearly $46 million to settle claims by 75 people who allege abuse by priests, lawyers involved in drawing up the settlement said.

If approved by a bankruptcy court and the plaintiffs, the agreement will provide one of the largest payouts per victim of any of the settlements reached across the nation since the church encountered crisis in 2002 with disclosure of abuse in the Boston Archdiocese.

But victims' advocacy groups and lawyers familiar with the agreement's details said it was also significant because it included rare nonfinancial concessions by Bishop William S. Skylstad.

Among those concessions is an agreement by the diocese to stop referring to "alleged victims" of priests' abuse rather than simply "victims," said Tim Kosnoff, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. The victims, Mr. Kosnoff said, are to be allowed to return to the parishes where they came into contact with their molesters and possibly face them, a provision that victims' groups said appeared to be a first. They will also be permitted to write about their experiences in the diocesan newspaper, with a full page devoted to that purpose each month for the next three years.

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2006 06:55 AM