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Church to pay $60M for abuse in Calif.

Published Dec. 2, 2006

The nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese said Friday that it would pay $60-million to settle 45 sex abuse lawsuits, the largest payout yet by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and among the biggest resulting from the molestation crisis that has plagued the church.

The cases were among more than 500 abuse claims pending against the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

"It's a day of healing and reconciliation as we move forward with these 45 cases," Cardinal Roger Mahony said. "This is very special for these victims in their moment of healing."

The settlement outlined by the archdiocese involves 22 priests and allegations from two periods when the archdiocese had limited or no insurance against sexual abuse claims - prior to the mid 1950s and after 1987.

Mahony said $40-million of the payment would come from the archdiocese, while $20-million would be from religious orders plus a small amount of independent insurance coverage. Negotiations on the deal had been in progress for at least a year.

Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiffs' attorney, said at least two plaintiffs died while awaiting a resolution. He said that an agreement had not been signed but that the parties were close.

The settlement as outlined by archdiocese is the largest in California since 2004, when the Diocese of Orange agreed to spend $100-million to settle 90 abuse claims.