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Grave charges of abuse in the L.A. Archdiocese, the nation's largest, have been settled out of court to the tune of $13 million.
Wrapping up 17 civil suits for abuse, the Archdiocese -- which boasts 5 million members in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties in California -- stated that these were the last of its "pending priest molestation lawsuits," reports the Los Angeles Times.
Here's what the settlement means for the Church, and for the alleged victims:
Proposed Settlement Details
The latest settlement involving the L.A. Archdiocese deals largely with the alleged acts of one particular member of the Church -- Father Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera. According to the Times, Aguilar-Rivera was accused of molesting 11 boys over a nine-month period in 1987, when the priest was visiting the L.A. Archdiocese from Mexico.
The settlement, reached last week, includes $1 million for each of the 11 men who alleged Aguilar-Rivera abused them. Six other suits were also covered by the settlement, with lesser sums going to victims who alleged molestation by other priests, the Times reports.
In settlements like these, money from one party is exchanged for the release of liability for the accused acts. If this new settlement goes forward as planned, the 17 plaintiffs who claimed the Church was responsible for their alleged molestations will not be able to sue the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the future.
Molestation Settlements Add Up
Still, the Times reports that the Catholic Church has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Los Angeles and elsewhere to wipe away the stain of molestation lawsuits. Remember that some individual priests like the Rev. Neil Doherty of Miami were sued separately from the Archdiocese for which they worked.
Considering the widespread allegations of child sex abuse by Church clergy, the L.A. Archdiocese's $740 million in settlements to more than 500 abuse victims since 2002 may be a small price to pay, relatively speaking. By contrast, the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to thousands of former players who suffered concussion-related injuries -- and a judge even rejected that number for being too low.
Although this settlement closes the last of many pending abuse cases against the L.A. Archdiocese, an attorney for the victims told the Times that new victims may still appear and file suit.