Attorney: Leaks delay settlement in church sex abuse cases

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) — Both sides backed away Tuesday from leaked reports that the Boston Archdiocese and more than 500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse have reached an $85 million settlement.

“We are still working on things,” said an attorney for some of the alleged victims. “The leak has delayed things.”

In a statement, the archdiocese said, “A settlement still has not been reached, but the talks are continuing.”

Earlier, a source close to the negotiations said that the settlement would be finalized and announced later Tuesday. The source said 80 percent of the victims had signed on to participate in the agreement, which would provide $80,000 to $300,000 per victim depending on the extent of the abuse.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents about 130 alleged victims, cautioned that talks were still under way.

“It looks good right now, but you never know what’s going to happen,” he said on his way to Tuesday’s sessions with the case mediator. “Based on my past experience, things could fall apart, but we’re trying.”

As for when a settlement might be reached, Garabedian said, “Only time will tell.”

“Everyone is working diligently,” he said.

In addition, the archdiocese has agreed to provide psychological therapy for the victims, the source said.

The archdiocese has been embroiled in a sex abuse scandal since allegations arose of abuse by clergy and then accusations of a cover-up.

The scandal prompted a state investigation and eventually led to the resignation of the head of the archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law. He had faced criticism over his handling of the allegations. He was replaced in July by Archbishop Sean Patrick O’Malley.

In two previous positions — as bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, and of Fall River, Massachusetts — O’Malley won praise for his handling of sex abuse scandals.

Hundreds of people have alleged they suffered sexual abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese and have filed lawsuits.

Depositions given by Law in those suits have revealed details about how those in the church suppressed allegations of abuse.

In July, Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly released a report on sexual abuse in the archdiocese over the past six decades.

In his report, Reilly concluded that more than 1,000 children probably had been sexually abused by priests between 1940 and 2000.

He blasted Law and other church officials for failure to stop the abuse.

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CNN, USA
Sep. 9, 2003 Press Release
www.cnn.com

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)