Catholic Church in Oregon Oks $75 Mln Settlement

December 19, 2006

Portland, Oregon (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, will pay about $75 million to settle at least 170 claims of sexual abuse by its priests as part of a revised bankruptcy reorganization plan, according to legal documents.

The new plan was filed on Monday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland. It calls for 143 people who claimed they were abused to receive about $40.7 million.

About $13.75 million will be set aside for 26 people who may either settle or sue the archdiocese and $20 million will cover future sex abuse claims.

Insurance companies will pay $51.75 million and the remainder will come from archdiocese holdings and loans. No parish or school property will be used to pay the settlement.

Facing nearly 70 claims of priest sex abuse, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2004 on the day an abuse lawsuit asking for $135 million in damages was scheduled to go to trial.

After two years of legal wrangling in bankruptcy, the two sides agreed to mediation to attempt to settle the claims. The mediation, overseen by U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan and Lane County Circuit Court Judge Lyle Velure, resulted in the two sides settling most of the claims earlier this month.

The archdiocese's creditors must approve the new plan for it to emerge from bankruptcy.

The archdiocese will likely not emerge from bankruptcy until the late spring or early summer of 2007, according to legal steps outlined on Monday by U.S. bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris.

Before entering bankruptcy, the Portland archdiocese had paid more than $50 million to settle 130 priest sex abuse claims going back decades.

The claims have plagued a number of Catholic diocese across the United States, resulting in multimillion-dollar settlements with claimants.


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