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Lawyer: Church Abuse Deal Reached

Sep 4, 2002 | AP

The Boston Archdiocese and alleged sex abuse victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan have reached a tentative $10 million settlement, Cardinal Bernard Law's attorney said Tuesday.

"Tentative is the operative word," attorney J. Owen Todd said of a deal that could end civil suits brought by 86 people before a judge rules on the validity of a previous settlement worth up to $30 million.

Church lawyers made the latest offer in late July, Todd said, before the sides went to court to determine if the previous settlement was binding.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Mitchell Garabedian did not return a message seeking comment left Tuesday night by The Associated Press. However, he told Boston TV station WCVB that he has been negotiating with church lawyers and said he was encouraged.

Todd said Garabedian told him Tuesday morning that all but one of the plaintiffs had agreed to the settlement. All plaintiffs must agree for the deal to be finalized.

The previous deal was announced in March, but the archdiocese backed out in May when its finance council rejected it.

Garabedian asked Judge Constance Sweeney to enforce that earlier agreement, which called for the archdiocese to make payments to victims ranging from $10,000 to $938,000 each.

The new offer has been approved by the finance council, Todd said.

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.

Geoghan was convicted in January of groping a boy and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

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