June 30, 2005

Calif. dioceses settle sex abuse cases for $46 mln

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two Roman Catholic dioceses innorthern California have settled 42 clergy child sex-abuselawsuits for $45.6 million, the lawyer for the plaintiffs saidon Thursday.

Attorney Larry Drivon added that he was in "intensenegotiations" with two other Catholic dioceses in NorthernCalifornia to try to settle more than 100 other similarlawsuits.

The nearly $46 million in settlements notched on Wednesdayinclude the second largest such agreement for a Californiadiocese. The largest settlement was an agreement by OrangeCounty's diocese to pay $100 million to 90 plaintiffs.

The Catholic Church in the United States has had to fendoff hundreds of lawsuits in recent years involving charges ofpedophilia by some priests.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese of Sacramentoagreed to pay $35 million to settle 33 lawsuits. Individualsettlements ranged from $400,00 to $4.2 million, Drivon said.

The Diocese of Santa Rosa settled nine lawsuits for $10.6million. Its settlements ranged from $500,000 to $3.3 million.

"The $3.3 million settlement was the largest settlement inthe history of this litigation in the United States for afemale victim," Drivon said.

The Sacramento and Santa Rosa dioceses were not immediatelyavailable to comment on the settlements.