Victims receive settlement checks

After months of uncertainty and weeks of arbitration, clergy sex abuse victims, who entered the $85 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Boston, received their awarded amounts shortly after checks were cut Dec. 22.

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley offered the settlement to 552 victims of clergy abuse in September. According to Father Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, 542 people entered into the settlement. Ten decided to forgo the agreement, taking their cases to trial.

The archbishop released a statement Dec. 20, the day victims’ lawyers received a list of the individual amounts from arbitrators. In the statement, Archbishop O’Malley said he hopes that the monetary awards will “provide survivors and their loved ones with some measure of healing and peace.”

"We understand that no sum of money can adequately compensate them for the suffering they have endured and we realize that their actual participation in the arbitration sessions has been, for many survivors, their families and friends, a trying and difficult experience," the statement continued.

Victims recounted their stories of abuse before independent arbitrators and were awarded between $80,000 and $300,000 depending on the type, duration and severity of the abuse. All of the 542 who participated in the settlement received some monetary award, said Father Coyne.

In his statement, Archbishop O’Malley thanked the arbitrators, in particular lead arbitrator Paul Finn and his staff.

"My gratitude goes out to the outstanding team of arbitrators who worked so diligently and effectively to address each of these cases," said Archbishop O'Malley. "Without their wise and compassionate judgement, this arbitration process would never have been brought to its good and timely conclusion."

The $85 million settlement agreement came almost two years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal became public and just six weeks after Archbishop O’Malley became leader of the archdiocese.

Archbishop O’Malley took active steps immediately after his July installation to bring the lawsuits to a close. In August, the archbishop made an initial settlement offer of $55 million, which lawyers rejected. The offer was then increased to $65 million, with plaintiffs’ lawyers asking for between $90 - $120 million. A series of intense negotiations, in which the archbishop was personally involved, brought the final amount to $85 million. Victims’ attorneys met in late September and approved the language in the settlement agreement with the archdiocese, finalizing the offer.

The settlement was funded by several loans, which will be repaid through the sale of the former Cardinal’s Residence, nearly 30 acres of surrounding property and money from the archdiocese’s insurance carriers.