BOSTON – Lawyers for dozens of alleged victims of clergy sex abuse said Friday that settlement talks with the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese have stalled.
"We've now written our clients describing the fact that this is now at a standstill and we now have to re-gear to litigate the claims," said attorney Jeffrey Newman, whose firm represents about 250 alleged victims.
Archdiocese spokesman Christopher Coyne said church lawyers consider the talks productive and have said they have seen movement forward in the past few weeks.
Bishop Richard Lennon, interim head of the archdiocese, insisted the church still wants "to settle all lawsuits in a comprehensive manner."
"There are active conversations going on at this time regarding coverage issues by insurance companies," said Lennon, who took over when Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after criticism of his handling of the scandal.
About 500 lawsuits allege that Boston church officials were negligent when they transferred priests from parish to parish rather than removing them after receiving sexual abuse complaints against them.
Less than a month remains of a 90-day moratorium on litigation that both sides agreed to in February so they could work to settle the lawsuits. A similar moratorium last summer failed to produce a settlement.
Carmen Durso, an attorney who represents about 35 alleged victims, said he is not ready to give up. He said he still hopes the prospect of taking 500 cases to trial will persuade the archdiocese to settle.
"I still want to believe that I'm dealing with rational people who recognize that the only alternative is total war, and not a quick one like in Iraq, but one that will go on for 10 years," Durso said.
In September, the archdiocese reached a $10 million settlement with 86 alleged victims of the Rev. John Geoghan. It had rejected an earlier settlement, worth up to $30 million, saying it could not afford the deal because of hundreds of other lawsuits being filed.
Lennon kicked off the church's annual fund-raising drive Friday, reiterating that none of the money raised will be used to pay any sex-abuse settlements.