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LA Diocese Abuse Settlement; More Attacks in Pakistan; North Korean Reactor Shut Down

Aired July 15, 2007 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Straight ahead this hour, the sex scandal and the Catholic Church, millions of dollars expected to be paid out to the victims, instead of going to trial this week.
Also, new deadly attacks in Pakistan, another sign that Al Qaeda is gaining strength. We'll ask an expert and then this --

All righty, first there was "Crush on Obama," now find out who's hot for Hillary.

Hello everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you are in the NEWSROOM. Today the Catholic Church has spared itself the trauma of a sex abuse trial, but at a staggering cost. A day before scheduled jury selection, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reportedly settled suits involving hundreds of plaintiffs who claim abuse at the hands of priests, the record payout $660 million, more than a million dollars per plaintiff. The parties have scheduled a news conference to discuss details tomorrow and we expect to hear remarks this hour from Archbishop Roger Mahoney in Los Angeles. As part of the deal, the church is to hand over confidential files that might shed light on potential cover-ups involving church officials. The agreement reached with the plaintiffs is the largest of its kind by far. With reaction now from Los Angeles, CNN's Kara Finnstrom.


KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Parishioners flocked to mass Sunday in Los Angeles as word spread of the Archdiocese's record settlement, $660 million to 508 people who have accused priests of sexual abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the culprits need to be taken to justice, just like anybody else, whether they're priests or not priests.

MYRITA VARNA, PARISHIONER: I don't believe that all these claims are legitimate, and those that are, they should forgive.

FINNSTROM: The settlement, which attorneys tell CNN will be finalized Monday, is by far the biggest payout in a child molestation scandal that's rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

MARY GRANT, ALLEGED VICTIM: No resolution, guilty verdict or settlement magically takes away the pain of having been raped and molested by catholic priests in this archdiocese. FINNSTROM: Mary Grant is an alleged victim herself and heads up SNAP, the Survivor's Network for those Abused by Priests. The group held a press conference late Saturday, where alleged victims expressed mixed feelings about any settlement.

ESTHER MILLER, ALLEGED VICTIM: It means that Mahoney decided for a purely business decision to settle this so that he wouldn't stand in front of God and colleagues and the media in a courtroom and tell what he knew and be culpable.

FINNSTROM: That's Cardinal Roger Mahoney, head of the L.A. Archdiocese. Church attorneys had been scheduled to appear in court Monday in the first of 15 civil trials brought by alleged victims with the possibility Mahoney would testify. Mahoney had long fought releasing the confidential files of accused priests. But church attorneys say under the agreement, the archdiocese will no longer contest their release and a private judge will mediate any objections from individual priests. Part of the reason the L.A. Archdiocese has seen so many lawsuits, in 2003, the state legislature responded to outrage over the national scandal by lifting the statute of limitations on filing child abuse lawsuits for one year. They could be filed regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred. By year's end, 500 suits had been filed.

(On camera): So far the church has been silent about the settlement. Parishioners here even telling us that Cardinal Mahoney didn't bring it up during this morning's mass. However, the cardinal has just called a press conference during which he's expected to share the church's reaction. That press conference due to start any minute. Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


WHITFIELD: And as soon as we get Cardinal Roger Mahoney's comments, we'll be able to bring that to you. Our Kara Finnstrom is there.

Meantime, settling rampant claims of sex abuse has cost the church more than $2 billion, including $85 million in the previous largest settlement. That was in Boston in 2003. We'll examine some of the numbers later on in a CNN reality check.

Overseas, a major turn of events in Pakistan. America's troubled ally in the war on terror, Islamic fighters in a lawless region have ended a truce with the government. A series of attacks this weekend have killed at least 70 people, including Pakistani troops and police. Western officials have criticized the truce. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf helped create it last year. Critics say the government's hands off stance to war the region, has let it become a base for Al Qaeda. Today a White House official said the Pakistani leader is taking steps to address that problem. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley spoke with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. He also addressed reports that say Al Qaeda is on the rise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Al Qaeda is nowhere in the position today that it was before 9/11. And it's nowhere in the position it would have been, had we not been working hard on this problem for the last five or six years. But what we've seen in the last year or so is a problem in the northwest territories in Pakistan where the President Musharraf had a very aggressive strategy of using force against Taliban and Al Qaeda in that area. And over a year ago he reached an understanding with tribal leaders that they were going to police Taliban and Al Qaeda. And the truth is, it did not work. And what we've seen pooling of the Taliban, training, operational planning, President Musharraf understands it has not worked. We understand it has not worked. What you're beginning to see now is his taking steps to bring new troops in place to get control of that situation.


WHITFIELD: And we'll discuss the situation in Pakistan in greater detail later on. Terrorism analyst Art Keller will talk about Al Qaeda's purported regrouping. He'll also address the new videotape that shows Osama bin Laden.

U.N. nuclear inspectors are on site today at North Korea's main nuclear reactor. Their mission, find out if it really is offline, as Pyongyang told the world yesterday. The move has prompted both optimism and skepticism in some quarters. Here's CNN's, Sohn Jie-Ae.


SOHN J JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the aftermath of North Korea's announcement that it shut down the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, a reactor that produces weapons grade plutonium, a welcome response from Washington's State Department. But more cautious words from the man on the ground, U.S. assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill, who is in Asia, ahead of six-party nuclear talks with North Korea on Wednesday.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, U.S. ASSISTANT SECY. OF STATE: What we're not interested in is a shutdown as the end. As I said earlier, we're interested in the shutdown as a step and then we go to the next step, and we would get to disabling and eventually dismantling and fully abandoning these facilities. So, if you look at the February agreement, it says shut down for the purpose of eventual abandonment. I think that's an important sentence because it suggests we're not just temporarily freezing.

JIE-AE: In the agreement reached in February, North Korea agreed to shut down Yongbyon in return for 50,000 tons of fuel oil. But further negotiations are needed to get the north to completely abandon its nuclear weapons program, which includes submitting a list of all its nuclear materials for U.N. inspectors. Analysts believe North Korea already has enough weapons-grade plutonium to make at least six to seven nuclear bombs. Even North Korea's recent shutdown announcement needs to be verified and monitored by inspectors from the National Atomic Energy Agency who arrived in North Korea on Saturday. On Seoul streets, some breathed a sigh of relief. KIM IN SUK, SEOUL RESIDENT: I was always worried that North Korea, if pushed into a corner, might use the nuclear weapons in some way, says this woman.

JIE-AE: But a Seoul bus driver said he didn't trust the North Koreans to completely give up its nuclear ambitions. He said North Korea tells so many lies that he would only believe it when it is fully verified.

(On camera): These North Korean negotiators understand that this progress is by no means a sign of smooth sailing ahead. For history has proven that the road to a nuclear free Korean peninsula is long and full of bumps. Sohn Jie-Ae, CNN, Seoul.


WHITFIELD: So how do you shut down a nuclear reactor? As we'll hear next hour from CNN's Zain Verjee, it's not quite as easy as flipping a switch. Be sure to stay tuned as we tell you about reactor 101 next hour in the NEWSROOM.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Henry in Washington where the president's national security adviser is pushing back against a Republican plan that would limit the U.S. mission in Iraq and start making a plan to bring troops home.

WHITFIELD: Also ahead, some doctors say they've found just the prescription for insurance headaches. But is it truly money-saving medicine?

And eternally reunited with her husband in the shade of tall Texas oaks. Lady Bird Johnson laid to rest today. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Much more now on the record settlement reached by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It has agreed to a payout to hundreds of plaintiffs who claim abuse at the hands of priests. Coming up at 5:30, we'll speak with plaintiff Steven Sanchez. He's a party to the deal in Los Angeles. Steven Sanchez was scheduled to testify at the trial that was supposed to begin this week. That's next hour at 5:30 eastern where we'll talk to him live.

Holding firm on Iraq, the senate is set to resume debate on the war in Iraq tomorrow. Despite a flurry of course-correcting proposals from both sides of the aisle, President Bush insists he is still calling the shots. CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry is live at the White House with the very latest. Ed? Or rather in Washington, not really right in front of the White House, just in Washington.

HENRY: That's right. Here in Washington Fred. You know what's interesting is that White House spokesman Tony Snow keeps insisting that people in the president's party are not breaking with him over the war, but as you noted, very senior Republicans are demanding a course change in Iraq.


HENRY (voice-over): The president is on the defensive over a plan by two senior Republicans, John Warner and Richard Lugar, to limit the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq. So National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley tried to shift the focus to what the plan does not do.

HADLEY: If you listen to Senator Warren and Senator Lugar, the things they are not calling for, they are not calling for an arbitrary withdrawal schedule.

HENRY: Yes, but the Republican duo is demanding that the president come up with a new plan in October that would begin redeploying U.S. troops by the end of the year. A serious intra-party challenge to the commander-in-chief.

SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R) ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: We're co-equal branches, the president and the congress, and we just have to sometimes slug things out.

HENRY: Trying to stave off that slugfest, the White House is pleading for patience until September, when General David Petraeus submits a progress report on the military surge.

HADLEY: Congress in May set out a schedule and structure for that process in consideration that it begins in September.

HENRY: But Democrats insist that process actually began last week with a preliminary report showing some progress on security, with few gains from the Iraqi government.

SEN. JACK REED, (D) ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Without a political solution, our military efforts will just buy time but not success.

HENRY: And veteran Republicans like Senator George Voinovich are telling the president's inner circle time is running out. CNN has learned that in a phone conversation last week, Voinovich told top aide Karl Rove the president's legacy is on the line. And the way to save it is to come up with a workable plan to pull out troops as soon as possible.

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH, (R) FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: They do want to put the pressure on. But the sooner we can exit there in a sensible way that we ought to be doing that.


HENRY: Now, in the short term, Voinovich has agreed to White House demands that he keep his powder dry until September, but he's privately warning that if the president does not have a new strategy by then, he will endorse a Democratic plan to set a timetable to actually start withdrawing U.S. troops within 120 days. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, the plot thickens. Thanks so much, Ed Henry in Washington.

HENRY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Now to the campaign trail where the Republican field is a bit less crowded today. Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore says he is dropping his bid for the presidency. Gilmore blames a late start in a hectic primary season. He's the first of 10 GOP presidential candidates to drop out of the race.

So what would you ask the presidential candidates if you could? Well here is your chance. CNN is teaming up with Youtube for the next presidential debate, to submit your videotaped questions just go to The first debate airs July 23rd, only on your home for politics, CNN.

Final farewells. Lady Bird Johnson was laid to rest today in her beloved Texas hill country. Relatives and close friends were on hand this afternoon as the former first lady was buried next to her husband at the LBJ Ranch. Earlier thousands of admirers lined the streets of Austin, Texas. Some people waved wild flowers as the funeral procession passed by. Lady Bird Johnson leaves a rich legacy as a political wife, businesswoman and environmental activist. She died Wednesday at the age of 94.


WHITFIELD: And step off, Obama girl. A new crush video is singing Hillary Clinton's praises. Notes on the parody, straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Yeah, check your calendar. It is mid July in the desert southwest as well, and kids, well, they're playing on a mountain of snow. Well, it's kind of snow. The Phoenix Zoo brought in 50 tons of shaved ice yesterday for their annual winter in July celebration. Now we understand the African wild dogs loved it while the rhino didn't think it was so hot.


WHITFIELD: Well fears of an Al Qaeda safe haven now in the absence of U.S. troops, no, not in Iraq, but Pakistan. What's going on there? We'll talk to a former CIA officer.

JOSHUA LEVS: With the big announcement being made in Los Angeles about a settlement, how much money has the Roman Catholic Church spent on these types of settlements? I'm Josh Levs, I'll have that figure coming up. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right Josh. And equal time for candidates takes on a whole new meaning. With the release of the "hot for Hillary" video, tune in to Jeanne Moos' report straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Half past the hour. Here's what's happening near Baghdad's green zone today. A car bomb went off, killing 10 people and wounding 25 more. Here at home the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles reaches a $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of sexual abuse from priests. More on that story straight ahead.

And a final goodbye for a former first lady. Lady Bird Johnson was laid to rest today in her native Texas, right next to her late husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Lady Bird passed away Wednesday at the age of 94.

And now more on the priest sex abuse scandal. The nation's largest archdiocese has agreed to a record payout. The Catholic Church in Los Angeles agreed to a settlement of $660 million. The settlement covers 508 people who claim they were sexually abused by clergy. The average is more than $1.3 million per plaintiff. The settlement also calls for the release of confidential personal files on priests. The deal is expected to be finalized Monday morning.

So the priest sex abuse scandal broke upon the public consciousness in the mid '90s. It's already cost the Roman Catholic Church more than $2 billion in settlements by some accounts. That's a staggering amount of money. Joshua Levs is here with a reality check on how all these settlements came about. How many cities are involved? A lot of questions.

LEVS: $2 billion and that's the figure we just realized today with this new $660 million. It's absolutely amazing, the costs and that's just, let me emphasize, that's just here in the United States. That's how much it's costing the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. So what we're going to do now is break down these figures for you. So you can see when that happened. Let's start off with this. This is what the costs comprise of. Remember, it's not just payment to victims. These churches, the Roman Catholic Church ends up also paying tremendous legal expenses, and for treatment of priests and therapy for the victims, which is often listed as its own cost in the settlements. Now, think about this, as of February 2004, so you get it was already half a billion dollars, according to the U.S. conference of catholic bishops. Half a billion already. Now let's take a look at the next screen. You have here every year, 2004, $140 million. 2005, $445 million. Then the next year, another $330 million. As of 2006, the church had past the billion-dollar mark, well past it. And Fred now when you toss in this expected announcement of this $660 million, you're hitting the $2 billion figure already.

WHITFIELD: And these are mostly out-of-court settlements and involving how many cities?

LEVS: Yeah, I mean you're talking about more than a dozen cities and they're all over the place. And yeah, in general, they're settlements. The church spoke openly about how much it did want to work out a way to settle these cases. I'll tell you about some of them, Los Angeles, Boston, Portland, Oregon and also Orange County in California. Let's keep in mind, not necessarily over it. There could be more.

WHITFIELD: You talk about in those settlements, also included some packages or at least some agreements of some sort of programs to help the alleged victims help the priests, to what extent?

JOSH: Exactly. You have therapy for victims and you have training programs for the priests, which are there to help people not do that wrong behavior, but also to help everyone feel better about it and be aware that the church has things in place. That part gets lost, is the fact that the church has taken some really important steps. The last thing I want to show you here is this quote, which is also from the conference of Catholic bishops here in the United States. It's by a one of the leaders over there and he talks the abuse scandal here that rocked the U.S. Catholic Church five years ago was a painful period, but it was also a teachable moment. Healing and preventative measures have gained momentum. Since the U.S. bishops adopted The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. That's it, The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in June 2002, and they've formed an independent review board.

So what they are saying here is there is a new structure in the church and they want people to feel comfortable that it will not happen again. .

WHITFIELD: We're going to be talking coming up later we're going to talk to one of the plaintiffs in that case to find out really how comforting this kind of settlement it is. We're not done with this topic. We're also waiting to hear from the Cardinal Roger Mahoney there out of Los Angeles who is holding a press conference. We'll be bringing some of his comments as soon as we get them.

JOSH: What the clergy is saying is really is that they have to regain the faith from everyone who was hurt.

WHITFIELD: All right. Josh so thanks so much.

JOSH: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: As I said we're not done with the topic. We'll also be talking to John Allen of the National Catholic reporter about the story. He is our CNN Vatican analyst. He'll be giving us his point of view of just how the Vatican weighs in, if at all, and how the Roman Catholic Church may be hit by this latest settlement.

Meantime, militants in northwestern Pakistan on the attack. Today, two suicide bombers rammed their vans packed with explosives into Pakistani police and army convoy. At the exact same time, a roadside bomb exploded, 14 people were killed. Later in the day, a suicide bomber detonated near a line of police recruits killing 17. The attacks happened in a region where al Qaeda and Taliban militants have recently gained power. CNN's Kelli Arena reported Thursday, al Qaeda resurgence there has U.S. officials very concerned.


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Al Qaeda is gaining strength. According to U.S. intelligence, Pakistan is a big factor.

JOHN KRINGEN, CIA DIRECTOR FOR INTELLIGENCE: They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and ungoverned spaces of Pakistan there.

ARENA: Pakistan's government limited militant action in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan last year. In exchange for promises from tribal leaders that they would prevent terrorist activities. Ever since then, however, intelligence officials say al Qaeda has taken advantage of those promises to regroup. In fact, officials say several suspects in recent UK terror plots trained in camps in the tribal areas.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, NYU LAW & SECURITY CENTER: They've launched a sequence of operations which have involved Pakistani training camps, training recruits in the art of bomb-making skills and encouraging them to become suicide bombers.

ARENA: Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. flatly rejects that.

MAHMUD ALI DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S: If you think that Pakistan is letting them sit there by design and we know that they are there, we are not doing anything, this is ridiculous. This is not true.

ARENA: A message reinforced today in a speech by President Musharraf, who promised to root out terrorists in every corner of his country. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Pakistan aided U.S. in the capture of several high-profile terrorists, including a key player in the 9/11 attacks. President Musharraf has since survived several assassination attempts, discontent within his government and constant calls by al Qaeda for Jihadists to rise up against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): Dogs have rubbed your honor in the dirt in the service the of the crusaders and the Jews.

ARENA: The Bush administration is concerned about Musharraf's hold on power and even more concerned about who could replace him if he falls.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: I'm working with President Musharraf. He doesn't want foreign fighters in his country.

ARENA: But as al Qaeda regains powers there's a push for the U.S. to be more aggressive.

REP. STEPHEN LYNCH, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: What we can do about getting the shackles taken from our own troops in that tribal area to allow them to go after the Taliban and go after al Qaeda.

ARENA: If the U.S. were to go in with guns blazing, it could risk touching off a powder keg that could develop the entire country, a country with nuclear weapons.

It's a dilemma that the U.S. may be forced to confront. Intelligence officials have said that if the U.S. is attacked again, it's very likely the plot will be traced back to Pakistan.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: So how big a threat is an al Qaeda safe haven in northwestern Pakistan? Here now to give us his take on that very question, Art Keller, he's a terrorism expert who served as a counter terrorism case officer at the CIA. Good to see you.

ART KELLER, FMR, CIA OFFICER: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Art in your view why is it that northwestern Pakistan is such a safe haven? Is it as simple as Pakistan is not policing it well enough?

KELLER: That's exactly it. The immediate origin started in 2004. Pakistan went on the offensive at that time, but it's generally regarded to have been a kind of heavy-handed effort. That did not work out too well. Shortly after that in 2005, a peace deal was signed with militants, and that was followed up in 2006 by a similar deal. That effectively gave both the Taliban and al Qaeda, who is working closely with the Taliban, free reign. So it was essentially a place where they could set up a corporate headquarters, if you will, and plan and execute operations both locally and overseas.

WHITFIELD: Sorry to interrupt, but has the Taliban and al Qaeda kind of become one in the same? They really are not two separate entities but they share a common goal?

KELLER: Well, they certainly share logistics. They share common goals and more the change has been the regional focus, but what has happened in recent months is you've started to hear the Taliban talking about conducting operations outside of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including in Iraq. And most recently, they talked about sending waves of suicide bombers to Britain, to America and other places. So that is a disturbing change. It does suggest that the Taliban is becoming more and more like al Qaeda.

WHITFIELD: And I guess what's disturbing to many, too, is that it's unclear whether Osama Bin Laden is the one who is in charge, if he's gone away, even though there's been this tape that has surfaced, but it appears his image predates 9/11. Or is the person in charge, Al Zawahiri? That's the one person, the deputy that we seem to see in the most recent videotaped messages.

KELLER: His most recent statement was intriguing because he called for retaliation because of the recent storming of the red mosque. Although the government of Pakistan has never been a favorite of al Qaeda, seems like he's turning up the rhetoric. That's suggesting that al Qaeda is pushing for an all-out confrontation with the government of Pakistan, which has not happened up to now. It may represent a strategic shift.

WHITFIELD: Art Keller, terrorism expert, serving as a counter terrorist and case officer at the CIA, thanks so much for your time today.

KELLER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Other news across America now, in Wyoming, police are searching for a man who may be a trained sniper. David Munis is a member of the Wyoming National Guard. Authorities believe he shot and killed his estranged wife as she sang at a local bar. Then he fled.

A Texas zookeeper is recovering today after a very close encounter with a tiger. Dozens of visitors to the San Antonio Zoo watched in horror yesterday as a tiger mauled his zookeeper inside a cage. The zoo was evacuated as a precaution, but zoo officials say the public was never in any danger.

A woman fell to her death last night at a Christian music festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She plunged 50 feet from a bungee-like ride called air glory. The unidentified woman died a few hours later at a local hospital.

And right about now in Washington State, they are cutting the ribbon for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The mile-long span was five years in the making. Its predecessor was nicknamed Galloping Gerty but is better remembered for its spectacular 1940 collapse, often called the most dramatic failure in bridge engineering history.

Paying for healthcare can be more painful than your original ailment. But some doctors think they found a cure. What's up with doctors on retainer? A thorough examination coming up next.

And talking dirty on your cell phone? Well, get your mind out of the gutter, people. We're talking germs here. How to clean your phone and clean up your chat all at the same time. Straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Now reaction from the Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney on the of $660 million settlement to sex abuse victims. Let's listen in.

CARDINAL ROGER MAHONEY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES: We gather today because this long journey has now come to an end, and a new chapter of that journey is beginning. During the past year, over a year, it has been my privilege and grace to meet with many, many victims, one by one, together with Judge McCoy. And during this time, I have come to understand far more deeply than I ever could, the impact of this terrible sin and crime that has affected their lives. I said to most of the victims whom I met with, I use this example, I said, your life, I wish, were like a VHS tape where we could put that in, press rewind, delete these years of misery and difficulty and start over when you were young and just before this happened.

I said I apologize because I cannot do that. I wish I could. And as I listen to do so many of these stories, I became more and more determined that we had to get all these cases settled. So beginning last June of last year with Judge McCoy's great assistance, we began our efforts to settle all of the cases that fell outside of periods of insurance. And we did that. So by late November, those 42 cases had been settled and those released. So many of the victims told me in various ways that even though the cases are resolved, even though they're receiving some compensation, there really is no way to go back and give them that innocence which was taken from them.

It is the one part of the settlement process that I find the most frustrating because the one thing I wish I could give the victims, I cannot. And that is a restoration to where they were originally.

WHITFIELD: Words from the Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney, talking about the fact that one journey has come to an end, but now a new beginning is under way as a result of the $660 million settlement that goes to victims of sexual abuse. However, he says that he wishes this kind of settlement could undo the kind of pain. For that, he's sorry. We're going to be talking to a victim, one of the plaintiffs of this case, coming up in the 5:00 hour to see if he, Steven Sanchez, agrees that a new beginning is now in front of them.

Up front on healthcare costs straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM. Some doctors borrow a page from their lawyer buddies in a bid to vanish insurance headaches.

And he says he was abused as an altar boy by a predatory priest, so what does he say about the diocese new settlement? That will keep his case from going to trial. An interview with Steve Sanchez coming up in about 45 minutes from now.


JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm CNN's Jacqui Jeras with today's allergy report. All the showers and thunderstorms that we had across parts of the east the last several days help clean out the air, so the pollen count is very low here. Across southern New England expecting down all the way to the Deep South. We're also looking pretty good across much of the nation's mid section. The Pacific Northwest, it's moderate to high.


WHITFIELD: So how would you like to hire your doctor, like you would an attorney, on retainer, and spare yourself the usual trouble most of us encounter when we go to the doctor? CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports on concierge medicine.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For a $1500.00 annual fee, Baltimore Dr. Thomas Landsdale is trying to help patients like Steven Caklin avoid frustrations like this.

GEORGIA WILLIAMSON, PATIENT: You can call a doctor's office and after you press 1 for this and 3 and 4 and 5 and you finally press the number on your telephone and you get an actual person talking to you and we'll be able to see you in six to seven weeks. NURENBERG: In Landsdales office.

THOMAS LANDSDALE (ph): This is a little more personal. The phone is answered immediately, and if they're sick, they're seen literally that day, sometimes within the hour.

NURENBERG: Landsdale is one of a growing number of doctors who limit the size of their practice by having patients pay an annual retainer for service. They don't accept insurance. It's payment up front.

LANDSDALE (ph): It's contrary to the whole ethic of the medical profession.

NURENBERG: Dr. Sidney Wolfe is with the Advocacy Organization Public Citizen.

DR. SIDNEY WOLFE, PUBLIC CITIZEN: And you start distinguishing between the more well to do and the less well to do. So I am completely opposed to it in any form.

WILLIAMSON: It's like having an old-fashioned family doctor.

NURENBERG: Georgia Williamson says she's healthier because she pays for what she calls a membership program run by her doctor in Virginia.

WILLIAMSON: He's now able to spend the time that he didn't have beforehand.

NURENBERG: In a statement on retainer practices the American Medical Association says concern for the quality of care the patient receives should be the physician's first consideration. Landsdale says in the typical insurance-driven model, he financially needs to see 15 to 20 patients a day.

LANDSDALE: I just can't practice medicine that fast. So this model gives me the time to take care of patients in the way that I think they deserve.

NURENBERG: In addition to the retainer fees, doctors recommend that patients keep health insurance to pay for tests, specialists and hospital stays. It may be too early to call this a trend, but some patients say it is just what they need.

WILLIAMSON: I know that it works for me. It works for me.

NURENBERG: Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Well, next in THE NEWSROOM, move over, Obama girl.


WHITFIELD: So after the success of the Obama girl's video, it was only a matter of time before we got a Hillary girl video. That time has now arrived. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Obama girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cuz I got a crush on Obama --

MOOS: Meet hot for Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got a crush on a girl named Hill.

MOOS: Oh, he won't mind.

TARYN SOUTHERN: Hillary I think I need you --

MOOS: Actress Tara Southern was inspired by the I've got a crush on Obama video.

SOUTHERN: Thought it was brilliant.

MOOS: So the former "American Idol" contestant did a parody of the parody.

SOUTHERN: Be your made or your White House maid or the soldier who marches in your first parade --

I would vote for Hillary.

MOOS: We're not sure this is the best way to get her elected.

SOUTHERN: H-i-l-a-r-y, I know you're not gay but I'm hoping for bi --

MOOS: We opted for a bi-coastal connection. The whole angle about a girl writing a crush on a girl. Are you acting?

SOUTHERN: I am actually straight.

The USA would be a better place if everyone could just get a taste of you.

When I was writing this video, I knew that the comedy would come from the fact that it's a girl singing about how she has a crush on the girl.

You're into border security, let's break this border between you and me --

MOOS: It's hard to keep up. Not too long ago, a Condoleezza Rice video was big.

A Condi's imitator, raps on subjects ranging from Iraq to her Condolicious shoes to Hillary's skin -- you've got great skin --

The game has seemed to get under the skin of some. Most who have commented on line seem amused -- She may be hot for Hill, but Hillary wasn't hot to comment.

They never returned our call. There was competition between Hillary Girl and Obama Girl. While Obama Girl featured bootie shorts. I've got a crush on Obama.

Hot for Hillary girl focused on pantsuits. I like your hair the pants that you wear and the shape of your derriere --

SOUTHERN: I do like her pant suits.

MOOS: Derriere was just a nice rhyme.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: The last story clearly illustrates the upcoming presidential election will be like none other, thanks to the Internet. CNN and Youtube are front and center as we team for the next presidential debate, submits your videotape questions, just go to Democrats duke it out July 23rd. Republicans, September 17th only on your home for politics, CNN.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Next in THE NEWSROOM, hundreds of victims, millions of dollars the Catholic Church agrees to a record settlement over sex abuse claims in the largest U.S. archdioceses.

Also, this army reservist has already served four tours in Iraq, now he is fighting to go keep from going back to Iraq.

And remembering Lady Bird. Famous faces come to honor one of America's most beloved first ladies.

Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, and you are in the NEWSROOM.

First this hour, sex abuse scandals and their growing cost to the Catholic Church with a scheduled trial looming, the archdiocese of Los Angeles has settled suits, involving hundreds of plaintiffs who claim to have been abused by priests. It is a record payout, $660 million, more than a million dollars per plaintiff. Additional details are expected to be announced at a news conference tomorrow. In a moment, we'll hear remarks from Archbishop Roger Mahoney.