A New Turn on Priestly Sex Abuse

Huffington Post

Shawn Lawrence Otto

A historic turn in the international battle against sexual abuse by priests may have begun today in Saint Paul, Minnesota. For the first time in 30 years, the world’s leading clergy sex abuse litigator, Jeff Anderson, stood with two high-ranking Catholic priests and some 70 survivors of child sexual abuse, and announced what he called “a transition from litigation to mediation and to resolution” of claims.

Anderson says that for the first time, a Catholic Archdiocese and its attorneys have come to the table and sought to work with his firm to proactively stamp out priestly sex abuse and create a safe place for children, instead of battling with him in court over money. “They are finally putting survivors first,” he said.

Anderson acknowledged that is was big change for some survivors to swallow, and to help allay doubts he was joined at the podium by prominent survivors and moral activists Al Michaud and Jim Keenan, who expressed hope that the agreement would lead to a new era in Church conduct in handling sex abuse claims.

In taking the step, Anderson acknowledged he is putting his international credibility with survivors on the line. But he says it’s not the end, it’s the beginning of a new “trust but verify” approach involving a 17-point protocol that, he says, will improve transparency and accountability by turning over much of the power in the situation to outside parties.

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