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Report Discusses Boston Diocese Payments

Dec 15, 2002 | AP

The Boston Archdiocese has at least $90 million in insurance coverage to pay claims of approximately 500 alleged clergy sex abuse victims, according to a published report.

The figure would bolster the arguments by lawyers for the roughly 500 alleged victims that the archdiocese could pay the claims without resorting to bankruptcy protection.

An archdiocese spokesman said Sunday that bankruptcy is still being considered an option.

"It's something among other ways of trying to come to a resolution of all this, but we have not said it is no longer a consideration," said the Rev. Christopher Coyne.

The $90 million figure was reported in a Boston Globe story published Sunday, citing attorneys and others involved in determining the amount of coverage available. The archdiocese's principal lawyers had previously estimated that $25 million to $45 million would be available to pay claims.

Kemper and Travelers, the archdiocese's two insurers during the years most of the abuse took place, have balked at paying the claims, partly on grounds that the archdiocese broke its contracts by recklessly moving dangerous priests into new assignments.

J. Owen Todd, Cardinal Bernard Law's personal attorney, told a judge last month that he would seek a court order to force Kemper and Travelers to honor the policies.

Lawyers for the alleged victims have until Friday to specify the amount of their claims against the archdiocese, which have been estimated at $100 million.

Uncertain whether it could count on the insurance money, the archdiocese has floated the idea of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish, whose firm represents about half of the alleged victims, said the $90 million figure was good news.

"That is more than what we'd been told of before, and if it were made available it would help in resolving these claims," he said.

The news comes as Bishop Richard G. Lennon, newly appointed apostolic administrator for the archdiocese after Law's resignation Friday, is trying to get a handle on the financial crisis he's inherited. He is expected to be briefed on settlement talks as soon as this week.

MacLeish agreed Saturday to postpone a deposition of Law scheduled for Tuesday, but said he would not "stand down" from releasing more documents detailing abuse.


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