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Scranton Diocese to Pay $3 Million in Sex Abuse Case

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, Pa., has agreed to pay $3 million to a man who said that as a teenager he was sexually abused by one of its priests.

The settlement, announced Thursday, is one of the largest individual awards made by a Catholic diocese to a victim of sexual abuse by clergy members, said lawyers familiar with such suits and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a victims’ rights group.

The settlement was reached Wednesday, after two days of testimony at a federal civil trial by priests and lay people revealed that the diocese had been warned about the conduct of the priest, Albert M. Liberatore Jr., “but the diocese did nothing about it,” said the victim’s lawyer, Daniel T. Brier.

The victim, who was not identified, had been scheduled to testify Wednesday. Brier said his client was 22, lived in New York and hoped to become a lawyer. Liberatore, who was defrocked in June 2006, pleaded guilty in 2005 to a criminal charge of attempted sexual abuse stemming from the case and was sentenced to 10 years of probation. Also in 2005, he received five years probation in a separate case after pleading guilty to indecent assault and other charges.

Musharraf Vows to Hold Elections

Gen. Pervez Musharraf told his national security council on Thursday that parliamentary elections would be held before Feb. 15 and that he would give up his military uniform before taking the oath of office for his new term as president.

As he made the statement, his security forces clamped down hard on the main opposition party of Benazir Bhutto, arresting as many as 500 party members Wednesday night and Thursday, party workers and diplomats said. The arrests appeared to be an attempt to thwart a protest rally planned by Bhutto for Friday, the party workers and diplomats said.

Musharraf, the president, did not set a specific date for parliamentary elections, and it was unclear whether the new timetable would satisfy opposition parties and Western governments, which had been demanding bluntly that he end emergency rule, step down from his post as head of the army, and allow elections to go ahead as planned. The elections had been scheduled for Jan. 15.

Hundreds of Iraqis Freed From U.S. Detention Center

Nearly 500 Iraqi detainees were released at a ceremony at a sprawling U.S. detention center in western Baghdad early Thursday, where they were urged by Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to “start a new life, a different life from months ago.”

The ceremony, held at Camp Victory in the dusty morning heat, marked one of the largest releases of Iraqi prisoners from U.S. detention centers, which have become increasingly overcrowded since the U.S. military buildup began in February.

In an interview with The New York Times, al-Maliki said he was also considering a general amnesty for most detainees. “We are working on such a project,” he said moments after delivering a speech to rows of newly released detainees seated before him. “We are thinking of having a general amnesty except for those who have committed direct crimes against Iraqis, and against our infrastructure.”

The number of Iraqi detainees held by the U.S.-led military forces has jumped to 25,800, from 16,000 in February, said Lt. Cmdr. K.C. Marshall, a detention operations officer.