Diocese pays $815,000 to settle 4 more cases

The Associated Press/May 9, 2003

Manchester, N.H. -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester has paid $815,000 to settle the cases of four more people who say they were sexually abused by priests, their lawyer says.

Peter Hutchins, who represents dozens of people in abuse cases against the church, said there now have been a total of 79 settlements for $6.8 million since the clergy abuse scandal erupted early last year.

Hutchins said the four latest settlements this week involved one woman and three men who said they were sexually abused by three priests from 1972 through 1990.

''We've accepted these as credible accusations,'' diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said.

The settlements will be paid through the diocese's insurance, McGee said. No funds from general collections, Catholic Charities or schools will be used, he said.

Hutchins withheld the priests' names at the request of his clients.

None of the priests was on the list of 14 clergymen accused of sexual misconduct that Bishop John McCormack released in February 2002, Hutchins said.

At least one of the priests in the most recent settlements is dead, McGee said. The others no longer are in active ministry, he said.

Neither McGee nor Hutchins would say whether any of the three priests are targets of a criminal investigation.

McGee said the diocese still is negotiating with attorney Mark Abramson on abuse claims by 60 other alleged victims.

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