US Jesuits agree to school sex abuse pay-out

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An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m (£103.3m) to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools.

The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologise to the victims.

The order 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."

The province ran schools in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

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 in a statement.

The pay-out is one of the largest to date in a series of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church.

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