After plaintiff attorneys last week told the Archdiocese of Boston the priest sex abuse case was worth $90-$120 million, based on their review of 500-plus claims and compensations granted in similar cases, Archbishop Sean O'Malley raised his initial proposed settlement to $65 million. Since O'Malley's first offer of $55 million earlier this month, both sides have undergone negotiations, with help from two professional mediators. Still, they remain at odds on several points, including total compensation, determining individual victim allocation, as well as the release of priests' psychiatric records.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports a 1962 confidential Vatican document has surfaced instructing church officials to maintain "perpetual silence...under penalty of excommunication" in investigations surrounding priest solicitation of sexual sin during confession. Attorneys and experts are weighing whether the file represents a "smoking gun" in allegations that church officials conspired to conceal sex abuse. Dan Shea, the Texas attorney who discovered the document, insisted it's "not just a smoking gun, but a nuclear bombshell," reported the Post. However, others including former church sex abuse case consultant Rev. Thomas P. Doyle say the media is over blowing what's already known. "...[S]ince January 2002, we have witnessed wave after wave of deception, stonewalling, outright lying, intimidation of victims and complex schemes to manipulate the truth and obstruct justice," he told the Post.
In the latest turn of events, convicted former priest John J. Geoghan was killed this weekend by a fellow inmate incarcerated on charges of "gay-bashing" murder and known to hold anti-Semitic views, reported the Boston Globe. Joseph L. Druce strangled and beat Geoghan after following him into his cell and jamming the door shut.
Geoghan was serving a nine- to 10-year prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool in the early 1990s, and he had been accused of molesting more than 130 children since the 1980s.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .