September 18, 2007 in Nation/World

Diocese creates fund to settle suits

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

PITTSBURGH – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said Monday it has created a $1.25 million fund to settle 32 lawsuits alleging abuse or injury by priests.

In a joint statement with an attorney for the plaintiffs, the diocese said it wanted to settle even though Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations barred many victims from filing personal injury claims.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Alan H. Perer said he appreciated the gesture even though he didn’t think the sum fairly compensated the victims for the abuse.

An independent arbitrator will determine how much each individual will receive, partly based on the type and length of abuse, Perer said.

If evenly distributed, it would be about $40,000 each before legal fees.

The victims think the courts and laws of Pennsylvania did not offer them protection, Perer said at a news conference.

“They are nevertheless grateful and they do appreciate that the diocese voluntarily is going to try to do something for them,” Perer said.

Of the 18 priests accused, nine are dead and the remaining have not been practicing for several years, said diocese spokesman the Rev. Ronald Lengwin. At least eight of them are retired and live in diocese facilities where they spend most of their time in prayer, he added.

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