Boston Archbishop Raises Settlement Offer to $65M

After plaintiff attorneys last week told the Archdiocese of Boston the priest sex abuse case was worth $90-$120 million, based on their review of 500-plus claims and compensations granted in similar cases, Archbishop Sean O’Malley raised his initial proposed settlement to $65 million. Since O’Malley’s first offer of $55 million earlier this month, both sides have undergone negotiations, with help from two professional mediators. Still, they remain at odds on several points, including total compensation, determining individual victim allocation, as well as the release of priests’ psychiatric records.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports a 1962 confidential Vatican document has surfaced instructing church officials to maintain “perpetual silence…under penalty of excommunication” in investigations surrounding priest solicitation of sexual sin during confession. Attorneys and experts are weighing whether the file represents a “smoking gun” in allegations that church officials conspired to conceal sex abuse. Dan Shea, the Texas attorney who discovered the document, insisted it’s “not just a smoking gun, but a nuclear bombshell,” reported the Post. However, others including former church sex abuse case consultant Rev. Thomas P. Doyle say the media is over blowing what’s already known. “…[S]ince January 2002, we have witnessed wave after wave of deception, stonewalling, outright lying, intimidation of victims and complex schemes to manipulate the truth and obstruct justice,” he told the Post.

In the latest turn of events, convicted former priest John J. Geoghan was killed this weekend by a fellow inmate incarcerated on charges of “gay-bashing” murder and known to hold anti-Semitic views, reported the Boston Globe. Joseph L. Druce strangled and beat Geoghan after following him into his cell and jamming the door shut.

Geoghan was serving a nine- to 10-year prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool in the early 1990s, and he had been accused of molesting more than 130 children since the 1980s.

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Washington Post 8/25/03; Associated Press 8/24/03; Boston Globe 8/22/03,8/25/03

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