Newly released documents detailing sex abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests could help speed hundreds of lawsuits toward settlement as the Los Angeles Archdiocese faces potentially damaging developments on other fronts in the abuse crisis.
The archdiocese posted summaries of the confidential files of 126 priests on its Web site at midnight Tuesday, even though they weren't expected to be made public for several weeks.
The archdiocese said it released the summaries to help victims heal and to make good on a deal made with plaintiffs during nearly three years of settlement talks. An appeals court ruling last month made it possible for the church to post the summaries, said Michael Hennigan, an archdiocesan attorney.
" think what we have here is a church that is embarrassed, that is contrite, that is ashamed of what happened in the past and is committed to reforming it to the extent that it is humanly possible to do so,"he said, reports Guardian.
More than 500 alleged victims have now filed a civil suit against the archdiocese.
The personnel records of the clergymen accused have just been released as part of settlement talks with lawyers in the case.
They show that for more than 70 years, the Church provided therapy to clergymen accused of abusing children, believing that they could be rehabilitated.
The Church then assigned the priests to new parishes, which often resulted in them re-offending.
One priest, who eventually confessed to having molested as many as 10 victims over 20 years, was only removed from the priesthood after several unsuccessful attempts at therapy.
If a civil settlement is reached with the plaintiffs in this case, it is likely to dwarf a settlement reached two years ago in the US city of Boston, when the Church paid $85m to settle claims also involving about 500 members of the clergy, informs BBC.