The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena will attempt to mediate a settlement to claims that priests and nuns sexually abused about 250 people as children in western Montana.

Attorneys for the diocese and for the plaintiffs asked District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena last week to temporarily halt court proceedings.

They plan to interview the alleged victims individually to determine the validity of their claims. The diocese also has pledged to open its financial records and share its files on accused priests with the plaintiffs' attorneys.

Plaintiffs' attorney Tim Kosnoff calls the diocese's transparency unprecedented.

The plaintiffs' attorney in a second lawsuit, Blaine Tamaki, says it's too early to tell whether the mediation will be successful.

The mediation process is expected to last until the end of the year.

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