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Disagreements persist despite abuse settlement

Mahony says he sought the deal to ease victims' pain. But their lawyers fear the full truth may never be revealed.

July 16, 2007|Joe Mozingo | Times Staff Writer

She then had to file a motion to compel the archdiocese to provide the "confidential files" containing the history of abuse complaints, and how they were handled.

Then, after taking depositions from diocesan employees, she learned the documents were kept "in a host of other places," including parishes, schools, regional offices and with clergy misconduct boards.

Again, Freberg had to go to the judge to compel the archdiocese to hand over those files.

After a year and a half of battling, plaintiffs had files for five or six priests -- out of more than 200 accused perpetrators.

The archdiocese said Freberg was requesting "ridiculous amounts of information" that were irrelevant and documents that would be vastly time-consuming to copy.

"It's a pressure tactic," said Mahony's spokesman, Tod M. Tamberg. "They will try to make it as hard and costly as possible."

Tamberg said now that an agreement has been reached, contention should subside. "We're in a different place than we were prior to the settlement," he said.

The lead plaintiffs' attorney, Ray Boucher, praised the archdiocese for settling the cases.

"We particularly appreciate the sensitivity and personal efforts of Cardinal Mahony in bringing important parts of this settlement together," Boucher said.

In the past, Boucher has blamed the insurers for the long delay in reaching a settlement.

John Manly, another plaintiffs' attorney, was not so generous, saying city leaders should call for Mahony's removal.

"How is it that the church and cardinal are engaged in misconduct so bad that they are willing to pay basically a billion dollars, with their legal fees, yet not a single public official has called for him to be removed?

"This man is in charge of 350,000 children."

Leon Panetta, a former member of the National Review Board, a panel of lay Catholics established by U.S. bishops in 2002 to respond to the scandal, said he hopes the settlement doesn't allow the archdiocese to continue as if nothing happened.

"The most important thing is that this cannot be viewed as the end of this tragedy," Panetta said in a telephone interview Sunday. "It has to be viewed as a wake-up call, to make sure it doesn't occur again."



Los Angeles Archdiocese in record settlement


The more than $764 million that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, his insurers and religious orders have

agreed to pay since 2002 to alleged victims of clergy abuse surpasses

any previous settlement. The total includes the $650 million pledged


Major clergy abuse settlements nationwide since 2002

*--* Number of Settlement Archdiocese/Diocese claimants (in millions) Los Angeles 570+ $764 Boston 983 $157 Portland, Ore. 315+ $129* Orange 90 $100 Covington, Ky. 350+ $85 San Francisco 113 $73** Oakland 56 $56 Spokane, Wash. 175 $48 Tucson 60 $36 Sacramento 33 $35 Louisville, Ky. 250+ $30 Hartford, Conn. 44 $23 Milwaukee 10 $17


* Includes $23.8 million set aside for future claimants.

**San Francisco's payout includes pre-2002 settlements.

Note: Exact terms of all settlements have not been disclosed or are not final.

Graphics reporting by Gale Holland and Vicki Gallay

Los Angeles Times

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