Sunday, March 27, 2011

US Jesuits agree to 166 million dollar sex abuse pay-out

Washington, Mar.26 :

The Pacific Northwest chapter of the Roman Catholic Church's Jesuit order has agreed to pay 166 million dollars to settle more than 500 Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools sexual abuse claims against priests.

Former students of Jesuit schools in five states of the north- west United States said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Under the settlement the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, which runs schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, will also apologise to the victims.

"It's a day of reckoning and justice, my spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better," said Clarita Vargas, who claims that a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in Washington had abused her and two of her sisters.

Most of the alleged victims were Native Americans and many of the alleged offences occurred on native reservations and remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

Blaine Tamaki, a lawyer who represented about 90 victims in the case, said: " No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith."

"This settlement recognizes that the Jesuits betrayed the trust of hundreds of young children in their care," Tamaki said. "These religious figures should have been responsible for protecting children, but instead raped and molested them," he added.

The payout amount to be given is one of the largest till date, in a series of sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church, BBC reports.

Earlier, the Jesuits had filed a bankruptcy protection in February 2009 as litigation over sexual abuse claims was mounting. Keeping this in mind, the agreed settlement amount will now be filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Portland, Oregon, on March 29.


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