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Counterproposal Made To Settle Abuse Lawsuits

Aug 19, 2003 | AP

Several attorneys for alleged victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests said settlement negotiations are moving at a feverish pace.

The attorneys made a counterproposal Monday to the Boston Archdiocese's offer to settle 542 lawsuits for $55 million. Victims' lawyers would not reveal how much money they are seeking or how far apart the two sides are.

The counterproposal, made 10 days after the archdiocese announced its offer, came during a three-hour meeting between lawyers for the alleged victims and lead archdiocesan lawyer Thomas Hannigan Jr. at a mediator's office in Brockton.

One of the eight plaintiffs' lawyers at the meeting, said the attorneys expressed concerns about the church's offer and put forward their own proposal.

The settlement would resolve lawsuits filed by men and women who said they were abused as children by about 140 clergy while leaders of the archdiocese routinely shuffled the priests from parish to parish rather than remove them from ministry.

Although some of the alleged victims have praised newly installed Archbishop Sean O'Malley for seeking to settle the cases, many have said the church's offer is too small, given the scope of the abuse and the number of victims.

The archdiocese's $55 million proposal represents the largest offer to settle allegations of clergy abuse since the scandal broke in early 2002. In June, the archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, agreed to pay $25.7 million to 243 people who said they were abused.

Hannigan did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, also did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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