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Spotlight Report

Lawyer presses archdiocese on a settlement deadline

Says he may reject further court delays

By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff, 5/24/2003

A lawyer representing 40 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse said yesterday that he won't go along with further delays in the civil cases filed against the Archdiocese of Boston unless Bishop Richard Lennon promises to make a settlement offer within 20 days.

''Such an offer must be specific . . . one in which each plaintiff will know precisely what he or she is being offered, so that it can be accepted, rejected, or met with a counteroffer,'' said the lawyer, Carmen L. Durso, in a statement released yesterday.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said, ''I wouldn't respond to that because that's something that needs to be handled through the mediation process.''

Lawyers handling nearly 400 of the 500 lawsuits had agreed to a 90-day cooling off period, during which all pretrial preparations were suspended, to give lawyers on both sides time to focus on trying to settle the cases.

After the moratorium expired this week without any resolution, Lennon made a personal appeal on Thursday for a 30-day extension.

Lawyer Jeffrey Newman, who is co-counsel for about 250 alleged victims, said he would recommend supporting Lennon's request for more time, in an effort to resolve the cases.

But yesterday, Durso said it was a ''great disappointment'' that the church had not made any offer to the victims during the past three months.

''This failure to engage in a settlement process has been a great hardship for the victims of abuse,'' said Durso, adding, ''Many have expressed to me that they feel it is yet another instance of neglect, abuse, and betrayal by the church.''

Durso said he would only agree to another 30-day delay in litigation if Lennon announces that he'll make a settlement offer to all plaintiffs no later than 20 days into the extension.

This story ran on page E13 of the Boston Globe on 5/24/2003.
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