A sorry chapter of Quebec's history is coming to a close with a settlement in cases of serial abuse at a school for the deaf.

The Clerics of St. Viateur ran L'Institut des Sourdes de Montreal on St. Laurent Blvd. for decades, but under their watch hundreds of students were physically and sexually abused.

Victims have explained how those as young as five years old were sexually abused and beaten by priests between 1940 and 1982. In all, 38 abusers were identified, including 28 clerics.

"The parents confided their children to the care and custody of the school and it's our position that the school is therefore responsible for what happened to the children," said Robert Kugler, lawyer for the victims.

Five years ago, those who were abused applied for a class-action lawsuit against the priests and the school, asking for $200,000 per surviving student.

Their case was given court approval to continue in 2012, and this week the students and the clerics reached an out-of-court settlement for $20 million.

150 people who attended the school as children are still alive, and will split the money equally.

Carlo Tarini, director of the Association of victims of priests, said the lawyers fighting for the former students were dogged in their determination.

"The victims were successful in this case because they had the right attorneys who were willing to press a point, and because of the evidence, the factual evidence about the abuse, about the widespread abuse to these children who were 8 to 16 years old was so abundant, it would have been very difficult for them to win a court case," said Tarini.

If more victims from the school for the deaf can be located they will also receive payments.

The settlement still has to be approved by a Superior Court Judge before payments can proceed.