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Catholic Diocese in US to settle sex abuse claims

Catholic Diocese in US to settle sex abuse claims

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston announced Friday it has agreed to settle child sex abuse claims, and designate as much as $12 million (euro9.3 million) for damages.
The settlement between the statewide diocese and attorneys representing possible victims was given initial approval by a judge, the diocese announced in a statement. It did not say how many possible victims there were.
South Carolina diocese officials said in 2004 there had been 45 credible abuse allegations in the state between 1950 and 2002 against 21 priests, one deacon and one deacon candidate.
"I deeply regret the anguish of any individual who has suffered the scourge of childhood abuse and I am firmly committed to a just resolution of any instance in which a person who holds the responsibility of a protector has become a predator," Bishop Robert Baker said in a statement.
Telephone messages left at the diocese were not immediately returned.
"Hopefully this class settlement will bring to a close this sad and shameful chapter, and enable victims some closure," Richter said in a statement.
The settlement creates two classes. One is sexual abuse victims born before August 30, 1980. The other includes their spouses and parents.
The agreement sets up an initial pool of $5 million (euro3.88 million). If $4 million (euro3.1 million) of that is paid, a second pool of $7 million (euro5.43 million) will be added. An arbitrator will validate claims and determine the amount of money, according to the statement.
The diocese said it was encouraging anyone who may have been a victim to contact an attorney.
Diocese officials in South Carolina have said the incidence of child abuse was lower than the national average during the past half century.
The state statistics were released in 2004 as the national Roman Catholic church released a similar report _ the first church-sanctioned tally of abuse cases.
The national report found there had been 10,667 abuse claims nationwide between 1950 and 2002. About 4 percent of all American clerics who served nationally during the period were accused of abuse compared with 2.7 percent of the clergy in South Carolina.
The state diocese said then it had paid $2.6 million over the years to settle sexual abuse allegations, $642,000 of that by insurance companies. Another $646,000 has been paid for counseling and legal fees related to sexual abuse allegations.
A former priest who pleaded guilty last year to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the sexual abuse of two boys 30 years ago was the seventh former priest, coach or teacher in the diocese to plead to abuse charges.
A final hearing on the settlement will be held in early March.


Updated : 2021-05-12 14:27 GMT+08:00