HELENA, Mont. -

An order of nuns is seeking new settlement talks with alleged sex-abuse victims less than three weeks before the first trial is scheduled to begin in Montana.

Attorneys for the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province will ask District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock Thursday to order mediation in the claims of child sex abuse by priests and nuns from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The order denies allegations it covered up the abuse of dozens of Native American children at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius.

The first three plaintiffs in one of the two lawsuits in which the Ursulines are defendants are scheduled to go to trial on July 14.

A co-defendant, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, filed for bankruptcy protection in a proposed settlement with 362 plaintiffs.