Published Date: 16 July
CHURCH leaders in America's largest Roman
Catholic archdiocese are to pay a record
$660 million (£325 million) to compensate
hundreds of children who were molested by
The Los Angeles settlement is the largest
since a national sex abuse scandal erupted
in Boston five years ago, forcing some
dioceses to close parishes and sell property
to meet the claims and driving others into
Each of the 508 claimants will receive about
$1.3 million if a judge in Los Angeles this
morning approves a deal that will also halt
legal proceedings against 15 accused priests
and spare senior church officials from
taking the stand.
"Some of the victims have waited more than
five decades for a chance at reconciliation
and resolution," said Raymond Boucher, the
victims' lead lawyer. "This is a down
payment on a debt long overdue."
The case is among the most prominent of
several around the US that have cost the
Catholic church more than $2 billion (£983
million) in compensation payments. The
previous biggest pay-out to victims was $157
million by the Boston archdiocese in 2003.
A year later, a report commissioned by the
church revealed more than 4,000 of its
priests had faced sexual abuse allegations
in the last 50 years and that there were
more than 10,000 victims, mostly boys.
Much of the controversy centred on how the
church knew of the abuse in many cases but
covered it up, allowing priests to transfer
to other parishes, where they could continue
to prey on children.
The scandal elicited an apology from the
late Pope John Paul II and prompted a
This is the second time that the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles has paid out this year after
settling a claim by another 45 alleged abuse
victims for $60 million in January.
Barbara Blaine, the founder of the Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests, said:
"The amount of money involved points to the
extent of the scale of the abuse.
"Credit for this settlement goes to the
courageous victims who came forward and told
of the horrors they experienced. Many
predators would still be working in churches
now if not for their bravery in speaking up.
"The bottom line is that the church is safer
now, and kids are safer. "
Church officials in Los Angeles settled
because they were keen to avoid even larger
punitive damages at civil trials due to
begin in the city today.
Michael Hennigan, the church's attorney,
said the archdiocese would sell its
administrative building and contribute $250
million, the rest coming from insurers, but
had no plans to close churches, as happened
in Boston and the diocese of Portland,
Oregon, which filed for bankruptcy in 2003
after a $129 million payout.
The Los Angeles archdiocese is estimated to
own at least 1,600 properties valued at more
than $4 billion.
"The mission of the church will be impacted
but not crippled," Mr Hennigan said.
Steve Sanchez, who was abused by a Los
Angeles priest when he was a boy, said:
"Hundreds of hurting men and women
desperately need intense therapy, addiction
counselling, drug rehab, in-patient
treatment and medical help."