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Abuse settlements OK'd

SPRINGFIELD -- All but one of 46 people who accused priests of sexually abusing them as children have agreed to accept a more than $7 million settlement with the Diocese of Springfield, a lawyer for the alleged victims and a spokesman for the diocese said yesterday.

''For most of my clients, they want this miserable ordeal to end, so they've had to swallow some pride. Finality to this saga is more important than additional money," said attorney John Stobierski.

Diocese spokesman Mark Dupont said the diocese had been notified of the acceptances.

''We respect the decision that these individuals made," he said.

The lone holdout is Francis Babeu, a Marine Corps captain who says he was abused by defrocked priest Richard Lavigne between the ages of 12 and 17 while Lavigne was at St. Francis of Assisi Church in North Adams.

Stobierski said each person's settlement will be at least $80,000 and will probably average about $150,000. The amount they receive will depend on the type of abuse and how long it lasted.

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