Priest Sex-Abuse Trials to Begin Tuesday

By Ashbel S. Green
The Oregonian
March 12, 2007

A series of abbreviated priest sex-abuse trials will be held during the next 10 days in U.S. District Court in Oregon.

The advisory trials are part of the process of gaining approval for the Portland Archdiocese' $75 million plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

More than 140 priest accusers have agreed to settle their claims for about $40 million, but more than a dozen cases remain unresolved. The bankruptcy plan includes money for accusers who have not come forward and for unsettled claims. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones will preside over the advisory trials before estimating the value of the claims. He will also determine whether punitive damages are warranted. His ruling will help determine whether enough money has been set aside for unsettled claims.

Most details of the cases are unknown because a gag order prevents parties and their attorneys from talking. But a recent hearing indicated that some of the accusations are against the Rev. Donald Durand, a retired Portland priest who has denied wrongdoing.

The Oregonian will provide ongoing updates from the federal courthouse in Portland.



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