Resolution of abuse lawsuits announced by diocese, lawyers

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A resolution of 32 civil lawsuits involving claims of abuse or injury by priests has been announced by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the plaintiffs' attorneys. The plaintiffs have withdrawn their lawsuits.

Courts in Pennsylvania have held that the statute of limitations prevents the bringing of suits in these cases, because the alleged abuses happened too long before the cases were filed.

"The Pennsylvania courts' rulings preclude our clients from pursuing their claims," said Alan H. Perer, a senior partner at the Law Firm of SPK, who represents all of the plaintiffs, and the "gesture by the Diocese is very much appreciated."

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has established a $1.25 million Outreach Fund to be distributed by an independent arbitrator to the plaintiffs for healing and reconciliation based on a review of each individual claim.

Each plaintiff in the lawsuits will also be invited to take part in a program of counseling and healing.

"Outreach and healing have been central to our response to victims of clergy sexual misconduct," said Bishop Paul J. Bradley, diocesan administrator.

"With the cooperation of the plaintiffs and attorneys in the lawsuits, we have moved from an adversarial relationship in the legal system to conciliation and agreement. This is important for all involved so that true healing can begin," Bishop Bradley said.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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