March 16, 2006

Deal Reached in Franciscan Sex Abuse Suits

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer
March 14, 2006

The Roman Catholic Church has tentatively agreed to pay more than $28 million to 25 people who say they were molested by Franciscan friars, attorneys involved in the negotiations said Monday.

The deal marks the first settlement involving the Los Angeles Archdiocese since the sex-abuse scandal began four years ago. It comes as lawyers were preparing to try the first cases against the Franciscan Friars of California and the Los Angeles Archdiocese for failing to protect children from predatory priests.

"We are delighted to see the successful resolution of these cases involving the Franciscans and would hope it would stimulate comparable participation with other orders as well," said attorney J. Michael Hennigan, who represents Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in the clergy sex-abuse litigation. The archdiocese, slated to contribute less than $2 million, is still working with insurers to come up with its share of the settlement, he said.

Though named in most of the lawsuits, the archdiocese played a minor role in the proposed deal, according to lawyers, because Franciscan priests and brothers allegedly molested most of their victims at the now-defunct St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara. A few cases involved Franciscans at church parishes within the archdiocese.

Posted by kshaw at March 16, 2006 07:12 AM