Pre-mediation talks are underway in Honolulu, Hawaii concerning more than 100 alleged child sex abuse cases. The lawsuits accuse Guam clergy and other church members of sexually abusing children. If parties involved are unable to come to an agreement concerning mediation protocols, mediation might not be an option and the case could go to trial without any attempt at mediating the dispute.
The parties so far have not agreed on who should serve as mediator. One Oregon Judge has met with the parties, but a final decision has not been made.
Despite the inability to agree on a mediator and other important decisions, a Hawaii-based attorney working with a Guam attorney to represent the plaintiffs still said he was “… cautiously optimistic. ” There are currently nine lawsuits involved in the pre-mediation talks and a 10th is due to be filed soon.
According to an attorney for the Archdiocese of Agana, the church is willing to settle the cases out of court, but wants to make its settlement based on insurance coverage and money it can raise through other means. It has already provided $1 million in seed money and proposed the sale of 41 non-essential assets to provide more money.
The minimum demand in damages in many federal church sex abuse cases is $675 million.
There are also concerns about mediator fees. The sides have been unable to agree whether a retired judge is the best choice because it could cost as much as $10,000 a day in fees. US District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood offered a sitting federal judge’s services to mediate at no cost and gave the parties until mid-September to let her know if they are willing to accept the option she is offered.