Details of the Settlement Offer in Spokane Diocese Cases

Associated Press, carried in KGW [Spokane WA]
February 2, 2006

WHAT HAPPENED: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane offered a $45.7 million settlement to 75 victims of sexual abuse by priests in a deal that also includes reforms designed to reduce the chances that molestations will occur again.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Accepting the settlement would end litigation by the 75 people, but at least 15 other people have indicated they were abused by priests in the Spokane Diocese and may seek money.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Spokane Diocese has 30 days to submit a motion to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams, who must approve the deal. The 75 plaintiffs have 120 days to decide if they will accept the settlement. Rejection would put the parties back into negotiations or on the path to trial.

HOW DOES IT PROTECT CHILDREN? Under the settlement, Spokane Bishop William Skylstad must go to each parish where abuse occurred and identify the perpetrator; individuals who were abused would be given the opportunity to address parishes; and the diocesan newspaper would devote space to victims to write about their experiences. The diocese would also refrain from referring to victims as "alleged victims." Skylstad must push for abolition of state statutes of limitations on sex crimes, and to write letters to individuals who were abused. The diocese would also add two abuse victims to its board that reviews clergy sex abuse complaints.


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