Boston church faces $85m abuse deal

A MULTI-MILLION dollar settlement between more than 500 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse and the Boston archdiocese appeared to be nearly completed following two days of secret negotiations.

A source close to the talks would not confirm reports that there was a deal in hand worth about $85 million (€75 million).

Archbishop Sean O’Malley had vowed to bring a speedy resolution to the legal claims.

During the last two weeks, the two sides had narrowed the gap between the archdiocese’s original $55m (€49m) offer and the $90-$100m (€80-90m) sought by the victims.

Installed in July to lead the US’s fourth-largest Catholic diocese, O’Malley quickly took an influential role in the lawsuit settlement negotiations. He replaced Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned after a barrage of criticism over his handling of sex abuse allegations.

Lawyers for alleged victims and the archdiocese have apparently tentatively agreed to settle for $85m (€75m).

The tentative agreement was supposedly reached late on Monday, but one source close to the talks said lawyers involved do not consider it a done deal until they have a written document signed by representatives on both sides.

The Rev Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, issued a brief statement yesterday morning saying no settlement had been reached, but that “all parties are still working towards a settlement offer and are hopeful it can get done”. He called the reports “premature”.

An agreement in principle was reached late Monday, after newly installed Archbishop O’Malley spent six-and-a-half hours on Sunday night negotiating directly with the victims’ lawyers, both sources said.

O’Malley was bishop of the Fall River Diocese, where one of the most notorious clergy abuse cases surfaced in the 1990s involving the Rev James Porter. O’Malley met with many of the victims, a step that was seen as critical to the eventual settlement of more than 100 lawsuits.

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