Catholic District Settles Lawsuits
Dozens of Plaintiffs Had Claimed to Have Been Abused by Clergy

The Associated Press, carried in Statesman Journal [Portland OR]
June 1, 2003

PORTLAND - The Archdiocese of Portland has settled sexual-abuse lawsuits with dozens of people who alleged that they were molested as children by Catholic priests or clergymen.

Lawyers for about 65 plaintiffs told a Multnomah County judge about the settlements Friday but would not disclose the dollar figures involved.

"I thought it was well worth doing," said Kelly Clark, a Portland attorney representing more than 20 plaintiffs in the mediation. "A lot of damaged people got closure."

Catholic officials also described the mediation as a success.

"These cases are difficult for all concerned, and we are pleased that so many were resolved without trial," officials of the Archdiocese of Portland said in a written statement.

"The Archdiocese has only limited resources, and we want to compensate as many deserving plaintiffs as possible. Settling means that we can use what we have to pay individual claimants, rather than attorneys and others to prepare for trial," the statement said.

There still are unresolved cases involving 35 plaintiffs, the Archdiocese of Portland, Mount Angel Abbey and other religious institutions.

In addition, lawsuits filed by nearly two dozen plaintiffs against the Diocese of Baker were not part of the negotiations and are unresolved.

The next step will be motions that will determine how many of the remaining cases go to trial.

Defendants will attempt to get some cases dismissed because of the statute of limitations, and there are questions about whether punitive damages will apply. Depending on the rulings, many of the remaining cases could be settled before trial, the lawyers told Judge John Whittmayer.

Since December 1999, about 160 people have filed lawsuits in Oregon claiming that they were molested by Catholic priests and other church officials.

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