Eighty-eight abuse victims agree to settlement

BOSTON — The Archdiocese of Boston confirmed that 88 people with outstanding claims of abuse have accepted the archdiocese’s offer of a settlement and have signed settlement agreements, according to a statement dated March 9.

These 88 claimants represent all of the survivors pursuing claims who were eligible to participate in the first phase of the arbitration process. That includes those who were able to show with a “sufficient basis” that they were abused as a minor by a priest of the archdiocese.

“We feel it is an important first step in resolving pending claims of sexual abuse of children by priests of the Archdiocese of Boston,” said Kelly Lynch, a spokesperson for the archdiocese. “We are very pleased with the response the settlement offers generated and are looking forward to proceeding with this first phase of arbitration.”

Arbitration hearings to determine the amount awarded to each claimant will begin in March and continue into April. The hearings will be held under the auspices of Paul A. Finn of Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation. Claimants will have the opportunity to choose who will attend the hearing with them, and no accused priests will be present, she said.

The archdiocese is also waiving liability — including negligence, charitable immunity and the statute of limitations, she said.

After the first phase of arbitration is complete, a second phase will begin for about 30 additional claimants for whom the archdiocese did not have a “sufficient basis” to determine whether or not the abuse occurred, said Lynch.

If those claimants choose to be part of the process, the arbitrator will be asked to decide whether or not the abuse occurred as well as determine the amount awarded to each claimant, she said.

The final group of approximately 70 claimants will be handled on a case-by-case basis after the second phase of arbitration hearings is completed, she said.

These claims do not involve allegations of abuse of minors by priests of the archdiocese. Instead, they may involve those who were abused as adults or by priests from a religious order or lay member of the Church, she added.

In addition to settlement awards, the archdiocese has spent $1 million annually in therapy services for survivors and their families. They have provided these services for over 400 people since 2002, she said.

“We recognize that the settlement process, while it’s important, does not address the profound emotional and spiritual suffering survivors and their families have experienced,” she said. “We remain committed to working with [them] to support their long-term healing as they live with the results of the sexual abuse they experienced as children.”