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Church Expected To Settle For $10M

Sep 19, 2002 | USA Today

A $10 million settlement is expected today in the case involving convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan, whose crimes triggered the roiling sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church this year.

If a judge approves the settlement this morning, it will wrap up a three-year legal battle between the Archdiocese of Boston and 86 victims and their families. The case put the spotlight on abusive priests nationwide and the bishops and cardinals who failed to report them or remove them from parishes, schools and hospitals.

''My clients firmly believe leaders of Archdiocese of Boston do not care about either their emotional or spiritual well-being,'' victims' attorney Mitchell Garabedian said Wednesday. ''So they just want to put this behind them and heal in any way they can.''

Boston Cardinal Bernard Law approved a $30 million settlement in the case in March, but a church finance council said the deal could bankrupt the nation's fourth-largest archdiocese and scuttled the settlement in May. Two weeks ago, an attorney for the church said Garabedian's clients were considering the $10 million proposal. Archdiocese officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney will hear the settlement proposal in the case of a 17-year-old who was abused by Geoghan. If she approves, Garabedian says, the other 85 clients also will settle:

50 who say they were molested or raped by Geoghan will divide $9.3 million.

20 who witnessed abuse or sexual exposure will divide $540,000.

16 parents or family members of victims will divide $160,000.

The civil suit began in 1999 and prompted prosecutors to pursue Geoghan in criminal court. He was convicted in January of molesting a 10-year-old boy and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Even with this case settled, the archdiocese faces hundreds more lawsuits involving other priests, bishops and Law.

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