26 Mar 2011

Victims to get big payout and apology for church abuse

8:50 pm on 26 March 2011

The Jesuit religious order in the United States has agreed to pay millions of dollars to mainly Native American victims of sexual abuse.

Almost 500 victims from a region along the Pacific Northwest and Alaska will receive more than $NZ212 million.

They'll also get a written apology for the abuse suffered at schools run by the order.

The Society of Jesus had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.

"It's a day of reckoning and justice," Clarita Vargas, who said she and two sisters were abused by a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in the state of Washington, told the Associated Press.

"My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better."

Most of the alleged victims were Native American. Much of the alleged abuse occurred on Native reservations and in remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

"No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith," lawyer Blaine Tamaki, who represented about 90 victims in the case, said.