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Archdiocese settles some suits alleging sex abuse

Nov 2, 2006 | Rocky Mountain News Some settlements in sex abuse cases have been reached through a mediation program offered last spring by the Archdiocese of Denver, the archdiocese confirmed Wednesday.

Last May, Archbishop Charles Chaput offered a settlement process to the 29 men and one woman who have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually abused by priests employed by the archdiocese. The incidents occurred between 27 and 50 years ago and involved two priests, Leonard Abercrombie, who died in 1994, and Harold Robert White, who is defrocked.

"We're very pleased that this approach we proposed in good will . . . has been succeeding," said spokeswoman Jeanette DeMelo. "There are others still in progress and we're confident that these will continue and there will be other settlements."

DeMelo would not discuss how many settlements have been reached. She said that while legal documents have been signed, agreements have not been finalized.

Miami-based attorney Jeff Herman, who represented the plaintiffs, did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Barbara Blaine, national president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), issued a statement Wednesday: "Financial settlements are the absolute bare minimum bishops should provide to child sex abuse victims, and victims shouldn't have to go to court to force such settlements out of recalcitrant church officials."

SNAP has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. today on the steps of the state Capitol, according to Denver spokesman Jeb Barrett. He said SNAP will repeat its demand to Chaput that the archdiocese open all of its records involving priests accused of sex abuse.

The archdiocese has repeatedly said the records are confidential.

Chaput hired Judicial Arbiter Group Inc. to conduct the mediation hearings with the alleged victims.

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