Denver Archdiocese Hopeful of Settling Abuse Claims

Associated Press, carried in Summit Daily News
November 2, 2006

Denver - The Denver Roman Catholic Archdiocese says it still hopes to reach settlements with more than two dozen people who say they were molested or sexually assaulted by clergy.

Jeanette DeMelo, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday that some settlement papers were signed and other deals are still pending.

"Some are still being worked out, but we're pretty sure we'll have a positive outcome with those, so we want to wait and see," she said. "The archdiocese is very pleased this approach we proposed in goodwill is succeeding to help some of those people who have come forward."

DeMelo would not disclose the number of settlements or how much the archdiocese has agreed to pay.

Some 30 people have sued the archdiocese for alleged clergy sexual abuse. The lawsuits center on alleged abuse decades ago involving former priest Harold Robert White, who was defrocked, and the late Rev. Leonard Abercrombie.

In May, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput said the archdiocese had hired a former state district judge as a mediator and committed an undisclosed "very large" sum of money in an attempt to negotiate lawsuit settlements by the end of October. In August, plaintiffs attorney Jeffrey Herman of Miami said there was an impasse over money.

Herman said five to 10 of his 19 clients were either "seriously considering" taking the settlements or had already agreed to the terms struck by the mediator.

Some of the plaintiffs are refusing to settle because they "are demanding the archdiocese come clean and release their files on all pedophile priests," Herman told The Denver Post. "They feel that until the archdiocese opens up their files and shows who knew what and when and who are all the priests who have abused children, they won't settle."

Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney representing the rest of the plaintiffs, said one of his clients took part in mediation but did not reach an agreement. The 10 other men did not participate.


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