L.A. Catholic Diocese to Pay $660M in Abuse Cases In Los Angeles, a judge is expected to sign the largest settlement ever in a clergy sex-abuse case. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $660 million to more than 500 people who say they were abused by priests and other clerics.
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L.A. Catholic Diocese to Pay $660M in Abuse Cases

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L.A. Catholic Diocese to Pay $660M in Abuse Cases

L.A. Catholic Diocese to Pay $660M in Abuse Cases

L.A. Catholic Diocese to Pay $660M in Abuse Cases

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In Los Angeles, a judge is expected to sign the largest settlement ever in a clergy sex-abuse case. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $660 million to more than 500 people who say they were abused by priests and other clerics.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

We sent an NPR producer to the Los Angeles Cathedral to ask people what they of the settlement. And the first person you're going to hear is Carlos Perez Careyo(ph), who says he himself was abused by a priest.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH BELLS TOILING)

CARLOS PEREZ CAREYO: Losing a faith that was so part of your daily life - losing your Catholicism because you can't believe in the institution anymore.

CLARISSA KELLER: Sometimes when something bad happens, people realize what they did and then they repent and then through the change they can help others not to ever do this again.

ROBERT HENDERSON: You know, some are good and some manages to succumb to temptation, whatever, I don't know. I leave that to God, to be honest with you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports that this settlement heads off 15 civil trials.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: The settlement spares the church a string of damaging and costly trials. The first was to begin today in superior court with the case of Father Clinton Hagenbach. Hagenbach, who died in 1987, left a legacy of more than a dozen traumatized boys. Steven Sanchez was one of them. He says the abuse lasted throughout his teens.

STEVEN SANCHEZ: The things that happened to myself and the other victims of this perp were similar to things that would happen to a weak male in the prison system.

BRADLEY HAGERTY: Sanchez says his treatment was typical. At first the archdiocese claimed they had no records about Father Hagenbach. Then they said they had 80 pages in his file. Then they gave his lawyers a 240-page summary. And when the case went forward, Sanchez was grilled by attorneys for the archdiocese and the insurance companies.

SANCHEZ: I had to go through a deposition. My mother and my father had to go through depositions, my little brother, my big brother. You know, everybody's been dragged through this whole thing again.

MICHAEL HENNIGAN: In order to get to a just result, a lot of information had to be obtained, and that's usually painful.

BRADLEY HAGERTY: That's the lead attorney for the archdiocese J. Michael Hennigan. He says Cardinal Roger Mahony repeatedly apologized to victims and sat down with 70 of them. Hennigan says the archdiocese was eager to settle the claims and move on, but their co-defendants were not.

HENNIGAN: We would have loved to have done this years ago, but it was going to take these cases ready for trials before the insurance carriers were going to have satisfied themselves that they've done what they needed to do to protect their own shareholders.

BRADLEY HAGERTY: The archdiocese will pay $250 million in cash with insurance companies and religious orders covering the rest. The church will sell off properties, but it says it will not close any churches or parish schools. The plaintiffs will receive on average $1.3 million dollars apiece, a hefty sum that will not buy the one thing Steven Sanchez wants.

SANCHEZ: Where can I take that check and cash it into someplace that can make me 10 years old again?

BRADLEY HAGERTY: Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR News.

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Los Angeles Court Approves Church Sex Abuse Settlement

Los Angeles Court Approves Church Sex Abuse Settlement

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A Los Angeles approved a $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and more than 500 people who were sexually abused by members of the clergy.

Hear Rob Schmitz of member station KQED in San Francisco

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Some of the plaintiffs sobbed as the deal was formally approved by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz, and a moment of silence was held for others who died during the five years of negotiations.

The settlement amount averages a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, although individual payouts will vary according to the severity and duration of the abuse alleged.

"This is the right result," said Fromholz. The deal is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal came to light in Boston in 2002.

The settlement also calls for the release of priests' confidential personnel files after review by a judge.

After the settlement agreement was announced on Sunday, Cardinal Roger Mahony apologized to the hundreds of sex abuse victims who will receive a share of the settlement.

"There really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them. The one thing I wish I could give the victims....I cannot," he said. "Once again, I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused. It should not have happened and should not ever happen again."

Mahony said he has met with dozens of victims of clergy abuse in the past 14 months, and those meetings helped him understand the importance of a quick resolution to the case.

The cardinal said the settlement will not have an impact on the archdiocese's core ministry, but he said the church will have to sell buildings, use some of its invested funds and borrow money. He said the archdiocese will not sell any parish properties or parish schools.

The settlement spares the church 15 damaging and costly trials. The first was to begin Monday with the case of Father Clinton Hagenback.

Hagenback, who died in 1987, left a legacy of more than a dozen traumatized boys. Steven Sanchez was one of them. He said the abuse lasted through his teens.

"Things that happened to victims of this perp (perpetrator) were things that would happen to a weak male in prison system," Sanchez said.

It was only in 2001 that Sanchez learned both of his brothers had also been abused.

Sanchez says his treatment was typical. At first, the archdiocese claimed they had no records about Father Hagenback. Then, they said they had 80 pages in his file. Later, they gave his lawyers a 240-page summary. As the case went forward, Sanchez was grilled by attorneys for the archdiocese and the insurance companies.

"I had to go through deposition. Mom, Dad, my little brother, big brother, everyone's been dragged through this again," he said.

J. Michael Hennigan, lead attorney for the archdiocese, said a lot of information had to be obtained from the victims. He said the archdiocese was eager to settle the claims and move on, but their co-defendants were not.

"We would have loved to have done this years ago, but it was going to take this case (getting) ready for trial before the insurance companies had satisfied themselves that they had done all they needed to do to protect their own shareholders," Hennigan said.

Sanchez said the settlement cannot give him back what he lost. "Where can I take that check and cash it in to someplace that can make me 10 years old again?" he asked.

From NPR and The Associated Press reports

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