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Alleged abuse victims settle with Chicago archdiocese for $12 million

October 3, 2003

CHICAGO — The Chicago Archdiocese agreed Thursday to pay $8 million to 15 people who say they were molested by Roman Catholic priests over the past five decades.

Individual settlements will range from $200,000 to $1.7 million, according to attorney Jeffrey R. Anderson, whose firm worked out the agreement with the archdiocese.

At a news conference attended by several of the alleged victims, Anderson released the names of the 11 priests accused of committing the abuse, plus the name of a priest covered in an earlier settlement. The list also included the parishes they were assigned to.

None of the men are currently active in the priesthood and several are dead, Anderson and archdiocese officials said.

Stanley Cwikla, 62, said he was 14 when a priest abused him. He called the crime "a case of rape and murder of the soul" and said Illinois should drop the statute of limitations that prevents prosecutors from bringing charges.

The archdiocese apologized to abuse victims, their families and communities.

"Nothing representatives of the archdiocese do today can make up for the abuse inflicted on victims of clerical sexual misconduct," the statement said.

Anderson said the archdiocese agreed to develop a Web site by Jan. 15 listing all priests who have been named in credible accusations of sexual abuse. The goal is to help other victims join in any legal action.

In July, the Chicago Archdiocese reached a $4 million settlement with four sex abuse victims of a former Catholic priest convicted in 2002 on child pornography charges. Anderson also participated in that settlement.

Last month, the Boston Archdiocese agreed to pay $85 million to 552 people who say that sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests devastated their lives. The deal is the largest known payout by a U.S. diocese to settle molestation charges. –Sapa-AP

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