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Settlements reached in church sex abuse cases

.- Four men have agreed through mediation to settle their sex-abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Denver. The settlements are estimated by the Rocky Mountain News to be somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 each.

Last May, Archbishop Charles Chaput offered a settlement process to the 29 men and one woman who filed lawsuits, alleging they were sexually abused by diocesan priests between 27 and 50 years ago. All of the lawsuits involved either Leonard Abercrombie, who died in 1994, or Harold Robert White, who is defrocked.

Jeff Herman, the Miami-based attorney who represents 19 of the clients suing the archdiocese, said all his clients pursued mediation but some of them stopped the process and opted for trial, saying they want the archdiocese to open all records pertaining to the two accused priests, reported the Rocky Mountain News.

Jeanette DeMelo, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, has said repeatedly that the archdiocese is hiding nothing and personnel files contain information that is legally protected for any organization or business. DeMelo has also noted that no priest accused of sexual misconduct is in active service in the archdiocese. She has encouraged anyone with a credible accusation to come forward.

"The archdiocese is very grateful to those who participated" in mediation, she told the Rocky Mountain News. Others are still going through the process, she added.

The remaining lawsuits are proceeding in Denver District Court. The archdiocese has filed motions to dismiss the cases, arguing that the statute of limitations has expired. Herman predicted they would not likely reach trial stage until next year.

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