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Archdiocese of New Mexico to settle sex abuse claims for $121.5 million

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The Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico says it has reached a $121.5 million settlement agreement to resolve a bankruptcy case stemming from clergy sex abuse claims, one of the largest settlements of this type involving the Catholic Church in the United States.

Proposed settlement would be used to compensate sexual abuse survivors, Archdiocese of Santa Fe said in a press release tuesday.

The settlement affects about 375 plaintiffs, Dan Fasy, an attorney representing 111 of the victims, said Wednesday.

The deal was among the largest settlements made by a U.S. Catholic diocese or archdiocese after decades of sexual abuse claims. The settlement also comes a month after the Diocese of Camden, NJ, said it had agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims made by hundreds of people who accused clergy of having them. sexually abused.

In New Mexico, about 74 priests have been described as ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse, while priests have been assigned to parishes and schools by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, according to The Associated Press.

The Archbishop of Santa Fe, John C. Wester, said in 2018 that the diocese would file for bankruptcy protection to settle child sexual abuse claims. The archdiocese is one of approximately 30 dioceses and Catholic orders in the United States to file for bankruptcy, according to BishopAccountability.orgthat tracks cases of abuse against the church.

The settlement, which must be approved by victims of abuse, will be funded by the archdiocese, parishes in the archdiocese, other Catholic entities and archdiocesan insurers, according to the archdiocese. Established in the 1850s after the Mexican-American War, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe comprises 93 parish seats and 226 active missions.

“The Church takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that survivors of sexual abuse are justly compensated for the suffering they have endured, Bishop Wester said in the statement. “We hope this settlement is the next step in the healing process for those who have been injured.”

The archdiocese said the settlement money would be used exclusively to compensate the victims and would not be used to cover the archdiocese’s legal fees or other expenses related to the bankruptcy case.

“I am happy to see that there is a certain feeling of closure for the survivors,” said Mr. Fasy, the lawyer for many victims, during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “There is no amount of money that can take away the pain and trauma the survivors have endured, but I’m glad they now have the opportunity to start asking themselves if the settlement makes sense.”

As part of the settlement agreement, the archdiocese also pledged to create an information archive to document the abuse and said it would hold prayer services and meetings with survivors.

The archdiocese is contributing $75 million to the settlement, with the rest of the settlement money coming from contributions from five different insurers, Fasy said.

The archdiocese said it hopes the settlement will “help bring healing to survivors of sexual abuse and the wider community”.

In the statement, Archbishop Wester said it was his “sincere hope that all parties will see the wisdom of the settlement and help bring the bankruptcy case to a close for the sake of sexual abuse survivors, the good of the Church and Catholics. throughout the archdiocese.