PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 10 (AP)--Twenty-two men who said they were abused by a Roman Catholic priest when they were boys have settled their estimated $44 million lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church. Details weren't disclosed, but the church apologized to the men on Tuesday.

The allegations against the Rev. Maurice Grammond made it one of the nation's largest cases of clergy abuse.

The plaintiffs charged that Grammond enticed them to engage in sexual acts from 1950 to 1974.

The settlement and the church's apology were announced at Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland. A state judge and a federal judge acted as mediators in efforts to keep the case from going into a lengthy and expensive trial.

"This settlement ends half a century of fear, secrecy, silence, and shame that protected Father Grammond," said David Slader, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Grammond, now 80, is a resident of the Alzheimer's unit of a retirement center in suburban Gresham.

The amount of the settlement was kept confidential by both sides.

The church's apology, which is to be read in every church in the Archdiocese of Portland, was part of the settlement.

In it, Archbishop John Vlazny concedes that "some of the priests" of the archdiocese "have sexually molested children who were entrusted to the care of the church."

"To any person who has suffered from abuse by any personnel of the Archdiocese of Portland and to their families, I express my deep regret and ask for pardon and forgiveness," he said in the written statement.

Over a period of more than three decades, Grammond served at a home for troubled and abused boys in Portland, for parishes in the coastal town of Seaside and in Oakridge, a logging town in the western foothills of the Cascades.

Most of the alleged victims had been altar boys in Seaside, where Grammond spent 20 years before his retirement in 1985.

The plaintiffs, who had kept quiet about the sexual abuse for decades, mostly live in Oregon and range in age from 39 to 61.

The first lawsuit was filed last year by Joe Elliott, who grew up in Seaside and now lives in Portland. After that, more plaintiffs came forward.

Doug Ray, now a city councilman in Seaside, has said that from the third or fourth grade until he was a freshman in high school, Grammond subjected him to increasing sexual abuse "as bad as one can imagine, and worse."

The lawsuits accused the archdiocese of failure to notify parishioners of Grammond's past molestations of boys, failure to monitor his activities and advise authorities, and failure to have other adults accompany Grammond on camping trips and other youth activities.

The archdiocese has also been sued by two men who claim the Rev. Aldo Carlo Orso-Manzonetta, who died in 1996, abused them when they were teenagers at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Portland and that the archdiocese ignored complaints.

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