LA archdiocese settles 4 sex abuse cases for $10 million
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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay nearly $10 million to settle four cases alleging abuse by a now-defrocked priest who told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly 30 years ago he had molested children, attorneys confirmed on Tuesday.
The cases involving ex-priest Michael Baker span 26 years, from 1974 to 2000. Two were set for trial next month. The cases were settled this week.
Two of the claims alleged Mahony didn't do enough to stop Baker from abusing children, said plaintiff's attorney John Manly.
Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011 and was rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, last month after confidential church files showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and protect the church from scandal.
Mahony, who is in Rome helping select the next pope, was aware of the settlement, said J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney.
"We have for a long, long time said that we made serious mistakes with Michael Baker, and we had always taken the position in these cases that whatever Baker did we were responsible for,'' he said.
Baker could not be reached for comment. Mahony has apologized repeatedly for his handling of clergy abuse cases. The cardinal was sequestered for the papal conclave and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"The person who could have stopped this in its tracks and prevented three out of four of these children from being sexually assaulted is now sitting in Rome voting for the next vicar of Christ,'' said Manly. "I find that terribly troubling.''
Two of the plaintiffs, a pair of brothers, will get $4 million each, and the two others will get nearly $1 million each, Manly said.
Confidential files show that Baker met with Mahony in 1986 and confessed to molesting two boys over a nearly seven-year period.
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