A settlement is reported to be imminent between the Catholic Diocese of Orange and 60 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, after two years of negotiations, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The plaintiffs were requested in court for the first time by the Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Owen Lee Kwong, an indication that the settlement was in it’s last steps towards completion.
In June the negotiations collapsed after attorneys for the alleged victims rejected a $40 million offer by the Bishop of Orange, Msgr. Tod D. Brown.
Were the case settled for $40 million it would have been the second-highest settlement by a US diocese, after the Diocese of Boston paid out $85 million to 552 victims in 2003.
The average payout of any settlement in this case could well serve as a model for the 500 or so cases pending against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The cases in Orange and Los Angeles are part of a coordinated negotiation process that involves two other southern Californian dioceses.
If the parties fail to reach a settlement, the lawsuits will move toward a trial. The only trial that has gone forward in California ended in two victims being awarded $30 million by the jury, but the diocese’s payout was reduced to $13 million, and then $7 million after negotiations.