Archdiocese: Talks on New Abuse Claims on Hold

Associated Press, carried in MetroWest Daily News [Boston MA]
September 13, 2004

BOSTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston has received at least 140 new reports of sexual abuse by priests, but said it will not negotiate the claims until it resolves disputes with its insurers over payment of last year's $85 million settlement.

Archdiocese spokesman the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne told the Boston Sunday Globe that the archdiocese cannot afford to settle the new claims, which legal analysts said could come to about $20 million.

"We've been letting the lawyers know that we would not be moving forward with negotiations until we have settled with our insurance carriers," he said.

Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs in the new round of claims, said the church has enough resources to settle the claims without insurance money.

"They always seem to have an excuse," he said. "I'm just preparing for trial."

The claims stem from alleged sexual abuse by priests from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Globe reported. Of the priests named, only one was not named in claims settled last year. Coyne said his name was not available.

The church borrowed $85 million to settle 541 claims in December. Since then, the archdiocese has sold the cardinal's residence and surrounding land for $107 million and designated 82 parishes for closure.

But Coyne said none of the money raised or saved would be used to settle sex abuse claims. The archdiocese is suing Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., which the church accused of fraud and breach of contract after the company refused to pay for more than $59 million in claims.

Meanwhile, more alleged victims of priest sex abuse have come forward in western Massachusetts, where an attorney is analyzing allegations from up to 15 people. In July, the Diocese of Springfield agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with 45 sex abuse victims.


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