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Duluth diocese insurer puts up $9M for clergy abuse settlements

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An insurer for the bankrupt Diocese of Duluth has agreed to provide $9 million that could help compensate clergy sexual abuse victims. 

But other insurers and the diocese have yet to agree on what money they may provide to more than 100 victims.   Josh Peck, one of the attorneys representing abuse survivors, said it's good to see the deal with an insurer but a resolution of the bankruptcy is not imminent. 

"Well, we need the other insurers to step and participate," he said. "And there's a lot more negotiation and lot more work  to be done on the case in general before we can get to a point where we have a consensual plan that everybody can agree to."

In a statement, the diocese said it the deal with the insurer, Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America, is a major step forward. 

"The diocese has always wanted to provide compensation to victims in the most just way possible and to emerge from bankruptcy as soon as we can," the church said in the statement. "We know that compensation alone is not sufficient to address the pain caused by members of the clergy. Bishop Sirba and the clergy and faithful of the diocese continue to offer their prayers and support to all victims in hope of healing."

The diocese filed for bankruptcy about two years ago, after a jury ordered it to pay $5 million to a sexual abuse victim.  The church said it could not pay that judgment and also possibly compensate other claimants.

The diocese has admitted to having credible accusations of sex abuse against some three dozen priests. 

The diocese has 92 parishes and more than 56,000 members throughout the 10 counties of northeastern Minnesota.