U.S. News

San Diego Church makes sex abuse settlement

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has settled lawsuits with 144 victims of sexual abuse by priests for $198 million, the diocese and lawyers for the victims said on Friday.

The settlement was twice as much as the diocese offered five months ago to resolve allegations that priests and church workers molested scores of young men and women 20 or more years ago.

It was the latest in a series of payouts by Catholic authorities in the United States since a nationwide priestly sex abuse and cover-up scandal erupted in Boston in 2002.

“This settlement recognizes the enormous courage of the survivors and all parties hope that this settlement will bring some relief for the pain that the survivors have endured for so long,” said Irwin Zalkin, an attorney representing some of the victims.

It followed four years of talks and a February decision by the Catholic Church in San Diego, which has about one million members, to seek bankruptcy protection.

By mutual agreement, the San Diego diocese will now request a court to dismiss its bankruptcy case.

San Diego Bishop Robert Brom said the diocese had always been committed to resolving the litigation in a way that fairly compensated victims while preserving the work of the Church.

“We pray that this settlement will bring some closure and healing to the years of suffering experienced by these victims,” Brom said in a statement.

The biggest church settlement paid so far was $660 million that the Los Angeles archdiocese -- the largest in the United States -- agreed to pay in July to 508 plaintiffs.