Verdicts & Settlements

Priest Abuse Awards Vary

Posted Jul 18, 2007 11:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Victims of priest sexual abuse who recently settled with the Los Angeles archdiocese will receive amounts that range from $100,000 to more than $3 million.

The awards vary, based on the harm to the victim, church culpability and the evidence available, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The payout will be reduced further by litigation expenses and attorney fees, which are 40 percent of the total in most cases.

Mediators who determined the awards considered harm to victims as well as other factors. Many lawyers showed videos in which their clients discussed the impacts of the abuse. Those who tried to commit suicide or abused drugs and alcohol were likely to prove substantial harm.

Other factors weighed by mediators include: Did the church fail to stop a priest it should have known to be dangerous? How long before the victim came forward? Had a previous lawsuit been dismissed?

"All you can do is measure the legal implications of your case," Raymond Boucher, the lead attorney for the victims, told the newspaper. "If you are a victim in 1980, and you are the only victim [of that priest], and there are no witnesses and no documents … then your case, no matter how horrendous or hideous the abuse is, your case is going to be valued differently."

A Los Angeles judge approved the record $660 million settlement Tuesday, ABAJournal.com noted.

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