Saturday, October 9, 2004

Trial date reset in abuse suit against diocese

The Associated Press

COVINGTON - A judge has pushed back a trial date for a class-action suit against the Diocese of Covington, saying more time could produce a settlement in the case.

Special Judge John Potter on Thursday reset the trial date for April.

The suit brought against the diocese allege a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by priests.

Potter said he has spoken with a representative of mediator Kenneth Feinberg, and he agreed more time could be beneficial.

"It increases the chance of the case settling," Potter said. "I think it would be beneficial for all parties to reach a settlement."

The trial, set for Jan. 10, was pushed back to April 11 by Potter.

Because of the ongoing negotiations, a hearing on several issues in the case was delayed Thursday, after attorneys huddled with Potter behind closed doors for more than two hours. Afterward, Potter came to the bench for about five minutes.

He said attorneys would find it difficult to both negotiate a settlement and prepare for a trial, which is expected to take months.

The suit, which alleges a 50-year cover-up by the diocese of sexual abuse by its priests and other workers, was filed in Boone County. Attorneys say there are more than 100 victims represented in the suit.

Diocesan attorney Carrie Huff declined comment.

Potter set another hearing for Nov. 15.

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