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L.A. Archdiocese settles 4 sex cases for nearly $10M

CALIFORNIA The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay nearly $10 million to settle four cases alleging abuse by a now-defrocked priest who told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly 30 years ago he had molested children, attorneys confirmed on Tuesday.

The cases involving ex-priest Michael Baker span 26 years from 1974 to 2000. Two were set for trial next month. A judge had said attorneys for the plaintiffs could pursue punitive damages at trial.

The cases were settled this week.

Two of the claims named Mahony and alleged he didn't do enough to stop Baker from abusing children, said plaintiff's attorney John Manly.

Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011 and was rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, last month after confidential church files showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and protect the church from scandal.

Mahony, who is in Rome helping select the next pope, was aware of the settlement, said J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney.

"We have for a long, long time said that we made serious mistakes with Michael Baker and we had always taken the position in these cases that whatever Baker did we were responsible for," he said. "That was never an issue."

Baker could not be reached for comment.

Two of the plaintiffs, a pair of brothers, will get $4 million each, and the two others will get nearly $1 million each, Manly said.

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