.- The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has reached a settled with 150 people, who claim they were sexually abused by priests of the archdiocese. The settlement, however, is yet to go before a bankruptcy court judge.
U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan announced news of the settlement but declined to disclose the dollar amount. All parties remain under a gag order until the cases are finalized, reported The Associated Press.
Hogan told reporters, however, that the archdiocese, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, could cover all current and future claims without selling off property held by parishes and schools.
Portland was the first archdiocese in the nation to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after massive lawsuits were filed in 2004 claiming sexual abuse by the late Fr. Maurice Grammond. Other priests have since been accused of abuse.
Ownership of parish and school property was a major issue in the bankruptcy case. The archdiocese contended that parish and school property was held in trust and not subject to claims, while attorneys for alleged victims argued the archdiocese was the owner and could sell property to pay any claims.
Hogan said the settlement also states that a healing service will be organized for all the parties, including the claimants and their lawyers, reported the AP.
About 20 lawsuits remain, but Hogan said he is confident the remaining claimants would accept the settlement.
To date, the archdiocese has spent $15 million on legal costs alone.