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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Boston Archdiocese Makes Dramatic Settlement Offer to Sex Abuse Victims

Aired August 8, 2003 - 19:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We start this hour with the news from Boston, where the Catholic archdiocese has apparently made a dramatic offer to the victims of sexual abuse by priests. The details are just coming to light.
For that, for the latest, we go to CNN's Jason Carroll -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, an attorney who represents a number of the plaintiffs that are named in the civil suit says the offer that's on the table is an encouraging sign, but he still says there are more steps that need to be taken before it's a done deal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Victims are hoping this will be the closing chapter in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston. The archdiocese has offered victims $55 million to settle more than 500 civil lawsuits.

An attorney who represents more than 100 of the plaintiffs named in the settlement told CNN: "I am going to review it with my clients. There are a lot of details to go through." The settlement would resolve claims by those who say they were abused by clergy when they were children. Defrocked priest John Geoghan, who is now serving a 10-year sentence on child molestation charges, is one of several priests named in the civil suit.

Last year, under Boston's former Cardinal, Bernard Law, the archdiocese offered $30 million to settle 86 cases against Geoghan, but that figure was reduced to $10 million after the archdiocese said it didn't have the money to pay the larger amount. Cardinal Law was eventually forced to resign because of the scandal. His replacement, Archbishop Sean O'Malley, was installed last week.

JOHN ALLEN, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": I think it's an indication that O'Malley means business and wants to try to move this thing forward.

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: I think he should take all the credit. There's been a 100 percent turnaround in attitude since he's been installed.

CARROLL: Immediately after O'Malley's installation, he switched the archdiocese' law firm and used the same one he used back in the early 1990s to settle another civil case, in Fall River, Massachusetts, when he was bishop of the diocese there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And the way we understand it, each of the plaintiffs has 30 days in order to accent the offer. The settlement would go into affect only if 95 percent of those plaintiffs sign off on it.

COOPER: Well, on the face of it, it sounds like a lot of money, but there are a lot of plaintiffs. How does the church decide who gets what and how much?

Well, the way we understand it is, there will be some sort of a committee that will be put together. And what they will do is, they will base -- the amount that you receive will be based on the level of abuse that took place.

COOPER: All right, Jason Carroll, thanks for the update.

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