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Church abuse claims settled

About 150 people who say they were molested agree to terms with the Portland Archdiocese.

December 12, 2006|Sam Howe Verhovek | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — About 150 people who say they were sexually abused by priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., have settled their claims, two judges mediating the matter said Monday.

The full amount of the agreement will not be announced until next week, when the archdiocese is to outline its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. But U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan said at a briefing that the payments could be made without having to sell off schools or property held by parishes.

The settlement must still go before a bankruptcy court judge. Insurance companies have agreed to pay more than $50 million toward the settlement; the archdiocese had paid about $25 million before its 2004 bankruptcy declaration.

Portland is one of four archdioceses -- with Tucson; Spokane, Wash.; and Davenport, Iowa -- to enter bankruptcy because of the weight of abuse claims.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently announced a $60-million settlement with 45 sex-abuse claimants. Other major payouts include about $100 million to 87 victims by the Diocese of Orange in Orange County, and at least $88 million to more than 500 people in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Hogan and Oregon state Circuit Judge Lyle Velure ordered the parties involved in the Portland litigation not to discuss it publicly, and an archdiocese spokesman said it would issue no comment.

The national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, praised the victims for pressing their case.

"We are grateful they had the wisdom to go to the courts and had the persistence to continue throughout this arduous process," said a statement by the director, David Clohessy, who was not involved in the litigation. "Kids are safer because of their courage. Every Catholic in Oregon owes these wounded but compassionate victims a debt of gratitude."

Another 20 or so cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Portland Archdiocese remain unresolved.

One, involving a 30-year-old identified in court documents only as C.B., was scheduled to begin this week in federal court in Portland. C.B. is one of at least 25 people who say they were abused by a now-deceased priest, the Rev. Maurice Grammond, who worked in several western Oregon parishes.

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sam.verhovek@latimes.com

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