Beliefnet
March 5, BOSTON (AP) - The Archdiocese of Boston has tentatively agreed to pay up to $30 million to 86 people who say they were molested by now-defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

The settlement was expected to be completed Tuesday, the newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.

The Globe said the tentative agreement was reached Monday, after 11 months of negotiations. It will still need the signatures of all 86 plaintiffs and the 17 defendants, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

Mitchell Garabedian, the plaintiffs' attorney, said Tuesday: ``No documents have been signed. We don't even have a final draft.''

A call to archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey was not immediately returned. She told the Globe that the church wants a ``fair and equitable agreement as soon as possible. And we want to do what's right for the victims.''

The 86 plaintiffs would get an average of $232,000 to $348,000 each, with an arbitrator deciding the amount in each case.

The church has already paid an estimated $15 million to 100 alleged Geoghan victims since the mid-1990s.

Geoghan was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison last month for groping a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool, and faces two more criminal trials. He has been accused of molesting more than 130 children in six parishes over 30 years.

The settlement would be one of the biggest ever reached by the nation's Roman Catholic Church in a child-molestation case involving a priest.

In 1998, nine altar boys in Dallas who said they were molested by former priest Rudolph Kos received a $23.4 million settlement. In New Mexico, the archdiocese paid an estimated $50 million to settle about 45 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by former priest Jason Sigler.

Besides the pending lawsuits against Geoghan, there are 48 claims pending against other priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, which has come under fierce criticism for moving Geoghan from parish to parish after learning of the allegations against him.

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