Pa. Catholic diocese sets up $1.25 mln abuse fund
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburghhas voluntarily set up a $1.25 million fund to aid the victims of 32cases of clergy sexual abuse, an attorney for the victims said onMonday.
Ron Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese, said church authoritieshad determined that many of the allegations of abuse were "credible"but he said they had not investigated every instance.
"We did not determine whether each one was true or not. In somecases it's impossible to come to any judgment with (the cases) becausethey are 50 years old," he told Reuters.
The fund will be distributed by an independent arbitrator based oneach victim's age, the type of abuse and how it has affected theperson's life, said Alan Perer of the Pittsburgh law firm SPK. Victimsalso will be given generous counseling, he said.
Perer said he had "mixed feelings" about the settlement because hewould like to have obtained more for his clients. But he said thePennsylvania courts had barred lawsuits because the alleged abuses,most of which occurred during the 1960s, were too long ago.
The victims were 23 men and nine women who are mostly now in their40s and 50s, Perer said. Three other men withdrew their claims.
He said one of the alleged abusers had applied for a counselingposition in West Virginia but had been rejected when victims alertedthe authorities there about the man's record.
The Catholic Church, in which priests take a vow of celibacy, hasfaced abuse allegations worldwide in the past decade. Victims havecharged that church leaders often knew of abusive priests but did notdo enough to stop it.
Lengwin said the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh had offered a fewyears ago to provide counseling to anybody who came forward to say theyhad been harmed by Catholic clergy.
In all, 17 priests were involved in the cases in question, nine ofwhom are now dead, he said. The remainder have all been removed fromthe ministry.
In July the Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a record $660 million deal to settle clergy abuse cases.
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