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Boston Archdiocese, Insurer Settle on Abuse

By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2005; Page A08

BOSTON, March 7 -- Boston's Catholic Archdiocese announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with a former insurance provider that refused to contribute financially to the landmark 2003 settlement with clergy abuse victims.

The church filed a lawsuit against the insurer a year ago, soon after the archdiocese agreed to pay about $85 million to more than 500 people who alleged they had been molested by priests.

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Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., a division of Kemper Insurance Cos., based in Long Grove, Ill., filed a countersuit against the archdiocese in April. Lumbermens said it was not responsible for abuse settlement payments because its policy covered accidents, not crimes.

The terms of Monday's settlement were not disclosed, although church spokeswoman Kelly Lynch said the details would be made public soon. Negotiations between the archdiocese and another insurer are continuing, she said.

The Associated Press, citing anonymous sources, said Lumbermens paid the diocese $20 million under the terms of the settlement.

"We are pleased to have this matter resolved," the Rev. John Connolly, special assistant to the archbishop, said in a written statement. "We are hopeful that, in the near future, we will be in a position to begin discussions about how to resolve pending cases."

A spokeswoman for Lumbermens declined to comment on the agreement.

Since the nationwide clergy abuse scandal emerged here three years ago, dioceses in Los Angeles and in Spokane, Wash., have become embroiled in disputes with insurance companies after settling abuse cases.

The Boston settlement "will be a helpful barometer for the bishops in other dioceses to predict what insurers are going to do in terms of their participation," said Jeffrey R. Anderson, a Minnesota-based lawyer who handles clergy abuse cases.

According to court documents, the church said Lumbermens was responsible for about $59.3 million for portions of the abuse settlement relating to periods when the company was the archdiocese's sole insurer. An additional $7.7 million of the abuse settlement was tied to a period during which Lumbermens' insurance coverage coincided with coverage by another company.

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