Diocese of Pittsburgh voluntarily sets up $1.25 million fund for abuse victims

.- The Diocese of Pittsburgh has voluntarily set up a $1.25-million fund to settle with the victims of 32 cases of clergy sexual abuse.

Ron Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese, said church authorities had determined that many of the allegations of abuse were credible but they had not investigated every one.

"In some cases it's impossible to come to any judgment with (the cases) because they are 50 years old," he told Reuters.

The fund will be distributed by an independent arbitrator based on each victim's age, the type of abuse and how it has affected the person's life, said Alan Perer of the Pittsburgh law firm SPK. In addition, victims will be offered generous counseling.

The settlement was the only way to go since the Pennsylvania courts had barred lawsuits because the alleged abuses, most of which occurred during the 1960s, were too long ago, Perer told Reuters.

The victims were 23 men and nine women. They are mostly in their 40s and 50s now. Three other men withdrew their claims.

In all, 17 priests were accused, nine of whom are now dead. The remaining priests have all been removed from ministry.

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