Spokane diocese pays into fund for victims

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6 2007 12:34 a.m. MDT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane has made its first payment into a special bankruptcy trust that will be distributed to victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The diocese and its 82 parishes wired $11.7 million into the trust on Monday to meet an initial deadline. So far, the trust has received $44 million of the $48 million promised in a settlement with victims. The rest is due by October 2009.

The victims can expect to receive payments next month.

"Compensation to victims of sexual abuse is just one small step toward healing for the victims," Bishop William Skylstad said in a press release announcing the payment. "I hope and pray that the entire community of Eastern Washington can continue to heal and reconcile."

Skylstad is head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and steered the diocese into bankruptcy in late 2004 to deal with scores of claims of sex abuse.

The settlement reached earlier this year prohibited disclosure of the number of victims and how much each received, and some other details.

But the reorganization plan said victims will get from $15,000 to $1.5 million each, depending on the severity of the molestation or rape. A former U.S. attorney will hear claims and decide how much each person receives.

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