Denver Archbishop proposes mediation in sex-abuse cases

.- Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput announced yesterday a mediation program to help individuals who have brought claims against the Archdiocese of Denver to heal and be compensated for their injuries.

“We deeply regret the suffering of any victim of childhood sexual abuse," Archbishop Charles Chaput said Wednesday at a news conference at the downtown Denver offices of the Judicial Arbiter Group, headed by former Boulder District Court Judge Richard Dana.

"We offer this mediation because we assume the integrity of all of the persons bringing these lawsuits against the archdiocese," Chaput said.

He appointed Judge Richard Dana to convene a panel of highly qualified professionals in order to carry out this task. “Beginning immediately, this panel will meet and make decisions on how best to compensate any current plaintiff who wants to take part in this process” archbishop Chaput said.

Any person who has a current lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Denver, as of May 20, 2006, claiming sexual abuse by a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver in the past, is eligible for this mediation.

In a statement released yesterday by Archbishop Chaput, he proposed this mediation as a number of people brought lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Denver.

The lawsuits describe past incidents of sexual abuse, which according to the plaintiffs, occurred between 27 and 50 years ago. Each of the lawsuits names one of two former priests of the archdiocese. One of the accused former priests left Colorado 33 years ago, and died 11 years ago. The other is accused of incidents more than 25 years ago, and he left active ministry more than a decade ago.

“The fact that the claims are decades old does not lessen how seriously we take these and any other allegations of abuse. We work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy in our Church environments. We've had a process in place for 15 years to stop this type of wrongdoing, and we strongly believe our efforts are working,” the statement continues.

Archbishop Chaput expressed his deep regret of the suffering of any victim of childhood sexual abuse. “We sincerely want to help any victim of clergy sexual abuse heal.”

“With the support of senior lay and clergy leadership of the archdiocese, I am offering this blue ribbon panel process to reach out and compensate the individuals who have sued the archdiocese.”

Judicial Arbiters Group, Inc. or JAG, is one of the nation's oldest private judicial groups. Founded in Colorado in 1984 by former Chief District Judge Richard W. Dana and 20th Judicial District Administrator Jerry D. Lockwood. JAG has helped to mediate disputes of 10 of thousands of litigants nationwide and in 2005 alone the arbiter group mediated 1800 new cases.

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