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Judge pre-approves $120 million settlement for church abuse victims

[JURIST] A judge Tuesday pre-approved a $120 million settlement agreement [Covington diocese press release] for class action plaintiffs claiming they were molested by priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington [official website] in Kentucky, marking the largest settlement agreement yet for US church abuse victims. The ruling allows $40 million of the diocese assets to be paid to victims right away while the remaining $80 million is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the diocese and victims against two insurance companies. Plaintiffs' attorneys are now able to advertise the class action lawsuit, filed in 2003, to victims who must come forward with their claims by November 10. Individual awards are expected to be in the $5,000 to $450,000 range, depending on the severity of the abuse. The judge will determine the final settlement approval number in January 2006 based on the claims brought forth by the victims. The judge's decision follows a vote last month [JURIST report] by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops [official website] to extend a ban preventing abusive priests from working in the church. AP has more.

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