The number of people who have come forward to make claims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish is double what was originally expected.
The diocese has now heard from about 140 people who say they were abused by priests in the Antigonish diocese since 1950, Rev. Paul Abbass, a spokesman for the diocese, confirmed Friday.
That's up from the expected 70 when the legal settlement was first drawn up in 2009.
There is no information about these additional claimants — where they're from or which priests they're accusing — because the entire process is confidential.
The total amount of the settlement remains the same at $15 million, so there will be less money for each victim, Abbass said.
It's not clear how much each victim will receive because that's based on his or her individual claim.
But, Abbass said, the diocese will make its first payment of $5 million by the end of May.
It must make two more payments of $5 million each by the fall of 2012. The diocese has raised $7 million so far, Abbass said, by gathering up savings from all the parishes and selling off a number of properties.
To get to the $15 million mark, the diocese will have to sell off many more properties, about 200 in all, by the fall of 2012.
Abbass said the properties will likely all be on the market by next month. The diocese is confident it will be able to meet the $15 million goal.
The 2009 settlement was reached by Bishop Raymond Lahey, the former head of the diocese, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of child pornography for the purposes of importation to Canada.