Clergy Sex Abuse Arbitration Complete

Portsmouth Herald [Boston MA]
Dowloaded December 18, 2003

BOSTON - Two months of intense, often emotional arbitration sessions to determine the size of settlement awards for more than 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse ended Wednesday.

Arbitrators have spent the last two months meeting with each of the victims to hear their individual stories. Under a settlement agreement reached with the Archdiocese of Boston in September, victims will receive anywhere from $80,000 to $300,000 each, based on the type and severity of abuse, and the psychological harm caused to victims.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who had 120 clients go through arbitration in the last six weeks, said the process was both cathartic and grueling for the victims.

"We went through many boxes of tissues," Garabedian said.

"Many of these people didn?t come forward for years because they were afraid no one would believe them," he said. "When they talked to the arbitrator, they were grateful there was another person they could tell their story to who would believe them."

During the arbitration sessions, victims were asked to tell their stories to an arbitrator, and describe how the abuse has affected them.

"It was enormously difficult for people. Even as a non-confrontational experience, it was still terribly emotional, terribly difficult," said attorney Carmen Durso, who had 39 clients go through arbitration.

The original $85 million settlement agreement has increased to $90 million, as the archdiocese has agreed to pay some victims who were not a part of the larger settlement but had filed individual claims.

Lawyers who represent victims said they expect to receive word Saturday on the size of the awards for each of their clients.


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