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Sexual Abuse Payout Re-opens Old Wounds

It was a record payout when the Los Angeles archdiocese agreed to an out-of-court settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests .

Divided by the 508 plaintiffs, the $660 million deal amounts to an average of $1.3 million per person. But the actual payouts will fluctuate considerably, with some victims receiving more than $3 million and some as little as $100,000. And that's before lawyers take their cut.

Determining who gets what amount was a wrenching process, one that involved hundreds of victims producing videotapes in which they recounted in detail the abuse and how it shadowed their lives. Some videos included footage from the rectories where the abuse took place.

"My life was filleted out," said Mary Ferrell, 59, a nurse who said she was raped by Monsignor George Scott at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro. "You told your story, first to the police and the archdiocese, and then once you got into the process for the lawsuit, more visits to different psychiatrists to verify the trauma."

In the end, some of the payouts had little to do with what victims suffered, reports say.

Key to determining the value of the cases was a host of legal factors such as how much notice the church had or should have had that the priest in question was an abuser, and whether there were other legal technicalities, like when the victim came forward and whether he or she had filed a previous lawsuit that was dismissed before the scandal exploded across the country.

Mediators, which in most cases were L.A. County Superior Court Judges Charles W. McCoy and Peter Lichtman, came up with awards working with attorneys on both sides. They took into account what kind of effect the priests' actions had on victims' lives.

People who could prove they had attempted suicide or struggled with drug and alcohol abuse sometimes had an easier time showing they had been harmed. Claimants signed off on t
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