Tucson bishop, claimants’ lawyers praise judge in settlement talks

.- Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and lawyers involved in settlement talks regarding sexual-abuse claims have praised the judge who is leading the process for his firm and fair guidance and remarked on the amicable way in which talks are proceeding.

In fact, they’re proceeding so well that a resolution may be expected as early as today—remarkable, say bankruptcy experts. The Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy only last year after receiving an overwhelming number of claims of clergy sex abuse.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar is leading the process. He had approved the diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization plan in July. The plan makes $22.2 million available to settle court-approved claims by 31 people.

Susan Boswell, the diocese's lead bankruptcy lawyer, told the Associated Press she hopes the settlement trust would be funded today. This would officially free the diocese from bankruptcy. The trust will provide initial payouts of up to $600,000 to the victims.

Boswell told the AP that the case could be resolved quickly because everyone wants fair treatment for the victims. The victims, in turn, are not looking to destroy the Church.

Bishop Kicanas agreed, saying the victims were focused on a fair and fast resolution to the case.

Lynne Cadigan, who had sued on behalf of many of the victims before the bankruptcy filing, told the AP she was impressed with Judge Marlar. "He treated the victims with complete respect in the courtroom, and spent more time than I've ever seen a judge spend, trying to address the concerns of the victims, whether they were legally valid or not," she was quoted as saying.

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