Diocese in Alaska agrees to $10m abuse settlement

Associated Press / November 25, 2009

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ANCHORAGE - The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks and representatives of almost 300 alleged victims of clergy abuse have agreed on a settlement of almost $10 million.

The agreement was discussed yesterday at a status hearing in federal bankruptcy court and will need to be finalized.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Ken Roosa said some of the payoff would be put aside to pursue as much as $100 million more from two of four insurance companies for the diocese that have balked in court at paying on behalf of the church. The rest would be divided among alleged victims, depending on the severity of abuse.

“It’s a long time coming. It’s a big step in the right direction,’’ said victims’ advocate, Elsie Boudreau, who received $1 million from the diocese to settle her sexual abuse claims.

Roosa said the diocese would accept liability for “many, many’’ millions of dollars. In return, a committee representing claimants would agree that it can’t collect that money from the diocese, but instead would go after the insurance companies.

“It’s a pretty big drop in a huge bucket,’’ Roosa said of the smaller settlement with the diocese. “This is not the entire amount.’’