Fairbanks, Alsk., diocese to pay millions for sex abuse

Alaska victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and volunteers from the Fairbanks diocese could finally receive payments early next year for the damage done long ago, though many of the details of the bankruptcy settlement have yet to be worked out.

Lawyers for the Fairbanks diocese and representatives of almost 300 creditors, most of them sex abuse victims, said Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that they've agreed to a nearly $10 million settlement.

The amount available to pay victims could grow considerably, depending on the results of efforts to extract up to $100 million from two insurance carriers that are not part of the settlement, said Ken Roosa, an Anchorage attorney who represents 240 victims trying to collect through the bankruptcy case.

Those two insurance companies had refused to participate in the negotiations, Roosa said.

The Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska, the formal name for the diocese, turned to bankruptcy in March 2008 after efforts to settle numerous sexual abuse lawsuits failed. Under the settlement, the diocese would resolve the cases and would sell some property, but would not have to close any parishes.

Specific amounts to individuals aren't yet set and will be determined case by case, depending on the abuse suffered. People with marginal claims of mistreatment that don't relate to sexual abuse may not get anything, Roosa said. Bankruptcy Judge Donald MacDonald still must approve the terms.

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