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LA archdiocese to settle priest abuse cases for $13m

LOS ANGELES — The
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay $13 million to settle 17 clergy abuse lawsuits, including 11 that involve a visiting Mexican priest who fled prosecution and remains a fugitive more than 25 years later, plaintiffs’ attorneys said Tuesday.

The deal resolves all remaining clergy abuse lawsuits against the nation’s largest archdiocese.

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‘‘We’re happy to have this behind us,’’ said J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney.

The archdiocese settled more than 500 cases in 2007 for a record $660 million and has resolved numerous others since then, individually and in small groups.

Eleven of the plaintiffs in Tuesday’s settlement allege abuse by visiting Mexican priest Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, who fled Los Angeles in January 1988 before the church notified police about parent complaints of molestation. The LAPD later determined at least 26 boys had been sexually abused by the priest during his 10-month stay in Los Angeles.

Aguilar Rivera has been a fugitive for more than two decades and was recently defrocked in absentia.

He is wanted on warrants issued in the United States and Mexico.

The lawsuits involving Aguilar Rivera had been set to go to trial earlier this year, but the date was pushed back to allow settlement talks to proceed.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who retired as leader of the archdiocese in 2011, would have been a key witness after giving sworn testimony in the case last year during a closed-door proceeding.

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