R4650m sex abuse deal

LOS ANGELES - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay about R4650 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s in the largest compensation deal of its kind.

LOS ANGELES - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay about R4650 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s in the largest compensation deal of its kind.

The settlement, which means victims will receive more than R7million each, is the largest from the Catholic Church in recent years following many cases in which victims sought financial compensation for suffering abuse from priests.

Ray Boucher, lead plaintiff attorney in the case, said they would issue a joint announcement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles today about the settlement.

The case was scheduled to go to trial today in Los Angeles superior court, focusing on 12 plaintiffs who accused former priest Clinton Hagenbach of having molested them. Hagenbach died two decades ago.

Had the case gone to trial, lawyers had sought to put Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, in the uncomfortable position of testifying about the church's response to abuses dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Because the criminal statute of limitations has expired, victims in California and elsewhere have brought lawsuits against the church over the issue.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Diocese, speaking a few hours before lawyers for the victims announced the deal, would only say that church officials planned to be in court this morning.

The judge hearing the case would have to approve the settlement, which a party of the case who did not want to be named put at about R4650million. - Reuters

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