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New wave of abuse suits could hit church like never before

NEW YORK (AP) — A wave of new laws in 15 states that allow people to make claims of sexual abuse going back decades could bring a deluge of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church that could surpass anything seen so far in its clergy abuse crisis.

Associated Press interviews with attorneys and clergy abuse watchdog groups found it could result in at least 5,000 new cases against the church and more than $4 billion in payouts.

It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among eight states that go the furthest with “lookback windows” allowing sex abuse claims no matter how old.

Catholic leaders worry about the difficulty of defending such old cases, and more dioceses are considering bankruptcy and victim compensation funds.

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