Spokane Parishes Reach Agreement to Cover Sexual Abuse Claims

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane has reached agreements with two more insurance carriers on payments to cover sexual abuse claims as the diocese's bankruptcy case heads into mediation.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Bishop William S. Skylstad said CNA Insurance had agreed to pay $3.5 million and the Washington Insurance Guaranty Association, which took over the policies of defunct Home Indemnity Co., just under $1 million.

Counting interest, Skylstad said in the statement, the settlements boost the total to more than $20 million from six insurance companies to help settle claims of sexual abuse by priests that led the diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004.

The diocese serves about 90,000 Catholics in Eastern Washington. When it filed for bankruptcy, it listed assets of $11 million against liabilities of at least $81.3 million -- the vast majority of that from dozens of sex abuse claims.

A mediation session was scheduled Friday before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Greg W. Zive in Reno, Nev.