July 15, 2007
Hundreds of people who claim they were abused by clergy affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles can expect to be paid more than $1 million each in a $660 million settlement of their lawsuits.
The deal, by far the largest settlement in the church's sexual abuse scandal, was reached Saturday, said Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiff's attorney. The archdiocese, America's largest, and the plaintiffs were set to release a statement Sunday morning and hold a news conference Monday, he said.
"I think the culprits should be held accountable just like anybody else, whether the're priests or not priests," said Paulina Zanudio.
The amount, paid out to over 500 people, would average a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, exceeded earlier reports that the settlement would be between $600 million and $650 million.
The settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion, with about a quarter of that coming from the Los Angeles archdiocese.
The release of the priest documents was important to the agreement, Boucher said, because it could reveal whether archdiocesan leaders were involved in covering up for abusive priests.
"Transparency is a critical part of this and of all resolutions," he said.