Sexual abuse
Abuse victims, Spokane parishes approve $48-million settlement

.- All of the alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Spokane, as well as the parishes and schools that are implicated in paying part of $48-million settlement have voted to approve the deal.

In documents filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 161 people who filed abuse claims and 125 churches and schools all voted in favor of the plan.

The settlement would pay individual victims from $15,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the severity and length of abuse claimed, reported the Associated Press. It also calls for Bishop William Skylstad to issue a public apology, publish the names of the clergy accused in the cases and allow victims to address the parishes involved.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams is expected to confirm the settlement and diocesan plan for emerging from bankruptcy at a hearing next Tuesday. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

Diocese attorney Shaun Cross told Spokane’s KXLY 4 that the settlement was remarkable.

"I've practiced bankruptcy law for 28 years and I've never seen unanimous plan where literally everyone involved, particularly a case this size and complex voted to approve. It's pretty remarkable," Cross was quoted as saying.

Not all claimants were pleased with the settlement but they agreed to it because they decided it was the best deal they could come to, reported the AP.

The diocese will pay the settlement from insurance settlements; sales of its downtown office building and other property; contributions from Catholic entities, such as cemeteries; a capital campaign; and payments from parishes.

The settlement requires local Catholics to contribute $10 million. Parishes intend to launch a fundraising campaign early next month.

The plan also sets aside $1 million for future claims.

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