updated 12/11/2006 1:55:29 PM ET 2006-12-11T18:55:29

About 150 people claiming they were sexually abused by priests have agreed to settle their lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, a federal judge announced on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan told a news conference that all current and future claims could be covered by the archdiocese without selling off property held by parishes and schools. But he refused to give a dollar amount.

The Archdiocese of Portland was the first in the nation to seek protection from creditors when it went to federal bankruptcy court to head off a massive lawsuit claiming sexual abuse by the late Rev. Maurice Grammond, who worked in several parishes.

Three other dioceses — Tucson, Ariz.; Spokane, Wash.; and Davenport, Iowa — have also sought bankruptcy protection from a flood of lawsuits by people alleging sexual abuse by priests. Tucson emerged from the process in 2005.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said it would pay $60 million to settle 45 abuse lawsuits, possibly selling off some of its property in Southern California to help cover the cost.

Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States have paid an estimated $1.5 billion since 1950 to handle claims of sex abuse by its priests.

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