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Spotlight Report

Settlement seen close in Rhode Island cases

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 9/6/2002

The Diocese of Providence and lawyers for three dozen alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse appear close to a settlement, according to a court document.

A motion filed in Providence Superior Court earlier this week by a plaintiff's attorney makes note of the ''likely settlement of approximately 36 of the 38 plaintiffs' claims'' in the case. The motion by attorney Steven A. Robinson was unrelated to any settlement and sought to withdraw his representation from two plaintiffs in the case. Robinson had no comment yesterday.

Other lawyers on both sides of the case declined to comment directly when asked if they were close to settlement. However, diocesan attorney William T. Murphy and the plaintiffs' attorney, Timothy J. Conlon, issued a two-sentence joint statement on Wednesday, saying, ''The parties have been involved in intense mediation toward resolution of the pending cases. Out of respect for the process, no further statement will be issued at this time.''

After 10 years of lawsuits and feuding, the parties entered into serious negotiations earlier this summer. The alleged victims said they were abused by a total of 11 priests and one nun.

The first case alleging sexual abuse by a priest was filed in 1992. In 1994, as more cases were filed, they were combined to facilitate pretrial procedure. The plaintiffs' lawyers complained about the slow progress on the cases.

A new judge, Robert D. Krause, was appointed last fall and the pace quickened. In June, Krause issued a major ruling, rejecting the church's desire for secrecy. He ordered it to turn over documents requested by the plaintiffs and to answer questions about the alleged abuse by the clerics.

Matt Carroll can be reached by e-mail at

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 9/6/2002.
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