US Church unveils sex abuse settlement

Australian Broadcast Corp./June 4, 2005

The Roman Catholic Church has agreed to set aside $US120 million ($Au158 million) to compensate parishioners molested by priests in the US state of Kentucky.

The deal is the largest such settlement to date in a long-running US clergy sex scandal.

The deal, unveiled on Friday by the local bishop and an attorney for the victims, would end a massive class-action lawsuit against the Diocese of Covington, which covers central and eastern Kentucky.

Under the deal, still subject to court approval, victims would receive payments ranging from $US5,000 to $US450,000, depending on the scope of the abuse suffered.

Money would also be set aside for counselling scores of victims.

Victims who have not yet reported abuse would also have a chance to seek settlement funds.

The money would come from the sale of church property, church investments and insurance companies, according to a statement by the diocese.

A study it conducted in 2003 revealed widespread sex abuse over the past 50 years, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.

It found that 30 of 372 priests had probably abused children.

Bishop Roger Foys on Friday offered a "profound apology" to those abused by priests.

"After personally meeting with more than 70 victims, I am painfully aware that no amount of money can compensate for the harm these victims suffered as innocent children," he said.

"Nevertheless, I pray that this settlement will bring some measure of peace and healing to victims and their loved ones."

The Catholic church in Orange County, California has settled with abuse victims for $US100 million while the church in Boston agreed to an $US85 million compensation fund.

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