.- Barring an out-of-court settlement, two cases on the alleged sexual abuse of children by a Portland priest are scheduled to go to trial today. The second case is a back-up if the first one is settled. This is only the eighth such trial in the United States in the last 20 years, reported the Oregonian.
Both suits involve Fr. Maurice Grammond of the Archdiocese of Portland, who has been accused of molesting more than 50 boys.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Ronald E. Cinniger is expected to hear the cases. However, both cases could settle at the last minute, or even after the trial has begun.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Portland said it is “committed to reasonable settlements with anyone injured by employees.”
The archdiocese and its insurers have paid more than $53 million to settle more than 130 claims by people who say they were abused by priests. More than 25 other claims are pending. The two suits slated for trial today seek a total of more than $160 million.
However, Archbishop John G. Vlazny told the Oregonian that there is a limit to how much the Church can pay, and he has not ruled out bankruptcy.
Both cases involve anonymous plaintiffs. The plaintiff in the first case claims Grammond fondled him in 1984 and 1985 when he was 8 and 10. The second plaintiff claims he was molested by Grammond in 1963 or 1965.
In both cases, according to the Oregonian, the key issue in deciding the verdict will be how much Church officials knew about Grammond and what they did about it.