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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Church faces record abuse payout
Alleged Kentucky child abuse victim Richard Lillick (right)
Richard Lillick (right) has identified himself as a victim
A Kentucky judge has provisionally approved the largest payout yet in the US Catholic Church abuse scandal.

The settlement, between a diocese in the state and an unknown number of sexual abuse victims, amounts to a record $120m (68m).

The class-action suit accused the Church of covering up child abuse by priests and others over 50 years.

The scandal has cost the Church more than $1bn in payouts since 1950,an Associated Press review says.

In the Kentucky case, the diocese of Covington will have to make $40m available immediately from its assets, if the payout is confirmed by the judge, John W Potter, at a hearing set for January.

The diocese is suing insurance companies for the remaining $80m.

'Grotesque cancer'

One of the plaintiffs in court was Richard Lillick, 63, who said he was first molested in 1957.

"I can't imagine anything better from our point of view," he said of the settlement, which he described as "an attempt to root out a very grotesque cancer that's been eating at the diocese for years and years".

The judge has ordered attorneys to determine exactly how many people qualify for compensation.

Victims have until November to file claims, and could be entitled to awards of between $5,000 and $450,000, depending on the severity of their ordeal.

The abuse scandal in the US blew up in the Boston Archdiocese three years ago and spread across the country.

Last year, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years in cases involving more than 10,000 children, mostly boys.

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