The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Church says it's working to settle Geoghan suits

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 3/6/2002

The Boston Archdiocese last night said it was ''working in good faith'' to settle sexual molestation suits filed by 86 people against former priest John J. Geoghan, following news of a tentative agreement reported in the Globe yesterday.

''Our goal is to achieve a fair and just resolution to these cases as soon as possible,'' said church spokeswoman Donna Morrissey, in a statement.

The Globe reported that the archdiocese and attorneys for 86 Geoghan victims have hammered out a tentative agreement that is expected to cost the church between $20 million and $30 million, with an arbitrator settling the final award for each person.

All of the plaintiffs and 17 defendants, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law, will have to sign the agreement. The entire process is not expected to be final until May.

Although the agreement was expected to be finalized yesterday, Morrissey said last night, ''All of the parties are working in good faith to reach an agreement, and we believe they will continue to do so.

''There are many individual aspects of these cases, and the parties are striving to be fair and equitable to each individual,'' she said.

One source knowledgeable about the negotiations said a resolution is expected quickly.

Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney for the plaintiffs, could not be reached last night.

The church has already paid another 100 Geoghan victims an estimated $15 million. If the church pays the minimum of $20 million in this settlement, it would mean $35 million had been paid out for one priest.

On average, the payments to the 86 victims would be between $232,000 and $348,000. However, some would receive minimal payments while those seriously abused would receive payments of more than $500,000 each.

Geoghan last month was sentenced to 9 to 10 years for molesting a child. He faces criminal charges in two upcoming trials, one of them for rape of a child.

The archdiocese has had to remove 10 priests from their positions and has turned over the names of about 90 priests to prosecutors.

There are four other suits against Geoghan and 48 suits against other priests.

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 3/6/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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