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Alleged Geoghan Abuse Victims Settle

Sep 19, 2002 | AP Alleged sexual abuse victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan have tentatively agreed to a $10 million settlement from the Boston Archdiocese to drop their lawsuits, their attorney said Wednesday.

"It's time to move on and try to heal as best they can, if at all," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.

The money will be divided among 86 plaintiffs, with the bulk of the settlement, $9.3 million going to those who say they were molested by Geoghan.

Another 20 people who say Geoghan exposed himself to them will split $540,000. Sixteen parents of children who say they were abused by Geoghan will divide $160,000.

Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said she would not characterize the deal as final, but said, "We're working towards it and our desire is to settle these cases in a fair and equitable manner."

Cardinal Bernard Law's attorney said two weeks ago that the $10 million offer had been tentatively accepted a claim Garabedian denied then.

The apparent new deal comes six months after the victims and the archdiocese announced a settlement worth up to $30 million. But the archdiocese backed, saying it could not afford that settlement as hundreds of other lawsuits were being filed.

Garabedian said Wednesday that his clients agreed to the lower figure because they want to try to put the abuse behind them.

A hearing was scheduled for Thursday before Judge Constance Sweeney, who is handling all the clergy sexual abuse cases.

Garabedian said Sweeney would be asked to approve a petition from an alleged Geoghan victim who is still a minor. The boy is now 17 years old, and the judge must approve his participation in the settlement before the deal can be finalized, Garabedian said.

Geoghan is serving a six-year prison term after being convicted in January of groping a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool in the early 1990s.

The sexual abuse scandal engulfing the nation's Roman Catholic Church was sparked in January with revelations that church officials shuffled Geoghan from parish to parish despite knowing of abuse allegations against him.

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