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More victims eligible for diocese abuse lawsuit

ST. GEORGE, S.C. – Nearly 80 people are eligible to join a class-action sex abuse settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, an attorney for victims said on Monday.

A review of diocesan records in recent months found 20 more possible victims of sex abuse by priests, said attorney Larry Richter.

When the settlement was announced in January with as much as $12 million designated for damages, the diocese said it knew of eight victims in addition to four who had already settled claims.

In March, attorneys said they had identified 53 people eligible to join the settlement.

That number is now closer to 80, Richter said.

An exact number of victims covered by the settlement won’t be known until the deadline for filing claims ends in four months.

Abuse victims could get from $10,000 to $200,000, while spouses and parents would receive $20,000.

A judge formally approved the settlement July 30.

The 20 new cases were those that the diocese could not verify had been reported to law enforcement, said Peter Shaid, an attorney for the diocese.

They all dated from before 1994, when the diocese instated a formal policy on handling abuse allegations, he said.

Only 16 of the possible victims found in the files could be located.


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