In an attempt at reconciliation, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston on Saturday offered $55 million to settle more than 500 lawsuits alleging priest sex abuse. Many hailed the proposal as a significant first step, attributing the church’s recent cooperative tone to the installment of Archbishop Sean Patrick O’Malley last month. Jeffrey Newman, an attorney for over 200 victims of abuse told the Agence France Presse, “For the first time in a year and a half, we are being treated as equals and human beings and being asked to discuss the resolution of what has been a terrible, horrendous torment for a large number of people.” Under the proposed terms of settlement, an outside mediator would be tasked with allocating monies “based on the type and severity of the abuse and damage sustained by each claimant,” the Boston Globe reported. Regardless of whether victims accept the offer, the archdiocese has agreed to pay for counseling.
Reaction to the settlement offer has been mixed among attorneys and victims’ groups. Some remain cautious, warning that throwing money at the issue will do little to ensure the future protection of children, while others like Survivors First have called the $60,000 per victim (post legal-fees) “woefully inadequate,” according to Newsday. “I’d like to see the archdiocese reach into their pockets, make it hurt a little bit,” Joe Gallagher of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors said.
The settlement will purportedly be paid $15 million from the sale of church property and the remaining $40 million by insurance, according to the Boston Globe. Plaintiffs have 30 days to decide whether to accept the settlement proposal, which requires agreement by 95 percent of the claimants.