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October 25
Victims could now collect

October 2
Geoghan's sister hits guards

October 1
Geoghan's sister to speak

September 27
Conviction erasure protested
Druce is hospitalized again
Guard ad seeks understanding

September 24
Inquiry: Druce beaten as child

September 20
Druce pleads not guilty in slay
Geoghan claims guard assault

September 14
Report says Druce in a rage

September 13
Letter: Druce abused as a boy

September 12
Geoghan bore guards' abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluges accused

September 11
Expanded panel is sought

September 8
Druce is returned from hospital

September 5
Geoghan consultant ties eyed

September 4
Conflict raised on consultant

September 3
Bias concerns raised in probe

September 2
No new panel members seen

August 31
Geoghan panel to expand

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Diocese, plaintiffs settle suit

86 Geoghan cases to cost up to $30m

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff, 3/12/2002

After a week of delays and a five-hour negotiating session, the Archdiocese of Boston agreed last night to settle a massive civil lawsuit with scores of people who were molested by former priest John J. Geoghan. Cost of the settlement is expected to be between $15 million and $30 million.

''It's done. It's complete,'' said Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney representing 86 plaintiffs, after emerging from a marathon session with Wilson Rogers Jr., the attorney for the archdiocese and Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

Garabedian said the details of the agreement, in a case that has deeply embarrassed the cardinal for its revelations that he assigned Geoghan to a Weston parish in 1984 knowing he had molested children, will be announced today at a midday news conference.

Calls to a spokeswoman for the archdiocese seeking comment on the agreement were not immediately returned last night.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement March 4. But the final accord eluded them until last night. Garabedian said Paul A. Finn, the mediator, kept both sides at the bargaining table until the agreement was concluded.

''I feel this is a giant step in the healing process for my clients,'' Garabedian said in an interview.

Under the agreement, the archdiocese will pay between $15 million and $30 million to Geoghan's latest group of victims. In the last several years, 100 other victims of the pedophile priest have settled claims for an estimated $15 million.

Altogether, the archdiocese is expected to pay more than $100 million to settle claims brought by hundreds of victims of priests over the last decade. That includes anticipated claims from at least 200 more victims who have retained lawyers since the extent of the abuse by priests became known in January.

The damages paid by the Boston Archdiocese, the nation's fourth largest, will be the highest ever paid by the Catholic Church in the United States.

Under pressure from law enforcement officials, the archdiocese has turned over the names of nearly 100 priests to law enforcement officials. Geoghan last month began serving a nine-to-10-year sentence, after a Middlesex County jury found him guilty of fondling a child.

Last night, Garabedian said his clients are all in agreement with the terms of the settlement. Late last week, he denied reports that some of his clients had balked at the size of the settlement.

As the Globe reported last week, the actual cost of the settlement, to be determined by arbitrators working for Finn's firm, is expected to run between $20 million and $30 million. That is because the plaintiffs will agree in advance to accept decisions by the arbitrators that will be based on the severity of the harm they suffered from the abuse.

Of the 86 plaintiffs, 30 are parents of victims or were victims of relatively minor abuse, including instances when Geoghan exposed himself to children at a Waltham Boys and Girls club. They will receive modest settlements, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

Of the remaining 56 plaintiffs, many are likely to receive payments that exceed a half million dollars each.

For the cardinal, the settlement provides a measure of relief. He was scheduled to appear on April 30 at Garabedian's office for a pre-trial deposition, under oath, to answer questions about why he allowed Geoghan to remain as a parish priest for eight years after he became aware of repeated accusations that Geoghan was molesting children.

Archdiocesan officials have refused to say how much insurance the Church has to offset the cost of settling the cases. But officials familiar with the Church's finances have said that there is no insurance coverage left for most of the years in which the abuse occurred. By several estimates, only $7.5 million of the total payout to Geoghan's victims is covered by insurance.

With the Geoghan cases settled, there are 48 pending lawsuits as of last month. Since then, however, an estimated 200 or more new victims have emerged; about 40 lawsuits have already been filed.

Walter Robinson can be reached at

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 3/12/2002.
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