Some changes to Boston agreement

Some changes to Boston agreement

The plaintiffs’ lawyers have made a few changes to the Boston settlement agreement. I think the changes are sensible and will improve the final agreement, addressing potential abuses of the large settlement by people trying to take advantage.

The amended proposal will let mediator Paul A. Finn, whose job it is to determine how much individual plaintiffs deserve, seek evidence of abuse and eject accusers who can’t provide it from the pool.

Anyone removed from the pool would have the right to pursue a claim against the church in court.

Very good. There does need to be a means by which the validity of the claims are judged. Otherwise, anyone could have joined in with the 550 plaintiffs, making the most absurd claims, and then get tens of thousands of dollars without having to prove those claims in court. At least now there will be a means by which nasty opportunists will be ejected from the pool of victims.

In the other change, Finn will be given the power to offer less than $80,000 to victims who were traumatized by priests but not abused. An example might be someone who saw a priest naked.

Ick, that would indeed be traumatic, although the way it’s phrased it could apply to the housekeeper who accidentally walked into the bathroom as Father was getting out of the shower. I don’t think they intended it that way, just that the phrasing is funny.

Of course, not everyone is happy with the settlement.

Separately yesterday, several victims’ advocates held a news conference outside the chancery to complain that the deal doesn’t force enough change in the structure of the church.

“It doesn’t force the Church to allow female and gay priests! It doesn’t give laypeople the right to hire and fire clergy! It’s not a good agreement!” I have a feeling that a lot of these people wouldn’t be satisfied until the Church was completely deconstructed with not one foundation stone left on another.

Activist Anne Barrett Doyle said she wants the church to allow public scrutiny of the personnel files of all priests accused of abuse. Susan Gallagher, who received $250,000 in a 1998 out-of-court settlement, said she was afraid the agreement would lead to “a whole new era of secrecy.” Archdiocesan policy no longer allows confidentiality agreements in sexual abuse settlements.

Quibbles over minor points. There are no less than three review boards, including one composed of victims and families. Opening up priests’ records to anyone would expose private details that have no business being out there, especially when the priests are only accused and not convicted. Otherwise, I could just claim a priest abused me if I wanted to see all the juicy details of his personnel record.

Finally, I don’t see how the new agreement leads to new secrecy. As the article says, there’s no confidentiality agreements. I just think some people don’t know how to walk away with a victory. Instead they wanted complete capitulation and domination.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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