October 15, 2014 / 2:55 AM / 5 years ago

Kansas City diocese to settle sex abuse claims for $9.95 million

(Reuters) - The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has agreed to pay $9.95 million to settle outstanding sexual abuse claims against its priests in a bid to close the latest chapter in a long-running scandal.

The settlement resolves 30 pending claims filed between 2010 and earlier this year that allege abuse by priests 20 or more years ago, the diocese said in a statement.

“The diocese sincerely hopes that this settlement can bring about some closure to those hurt by abuse in the past,” it said.

A lare part of the settlement will be covered by insurers, with the diocese paying the rest, the statement said.

The settlement comes as a jury was set to begin deliberating the claims of a former altar boy, Jon David Couzens, who filed a $10 million civil suit against the Kansas City diocese in 2011 alleging that he had been sexually abused repeatedly by a now-dead priest. The settlement includes Couzens.

David Clohessy, the director of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement that SNAP was relieved that Couzens and others would not have to face legal challenges from Finn and his lawyers.

But, he added, “more coverups by more Catholic officials would have emerged had these cases gone to trial and we’re sad that this won’t happen.”

The settlement also comes after the Kansas City diocese in 2008 agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 47 plaintiffs who claimed they were repeatedly sexually abused by priests when they were children.

In 2012, one of its priests pled guilty to producing child pornography, and the diocese’s current leader, Bishop Robert Finn, was convicted of failing to alert authorities to a trove of child pornography found on a priest’s computer.

The Kansas City agreement came a day after a Minnesota lawsuit over alleged clerical sexual abuse was settled and new child protection guidelines were agreed.

(The story corrects time frame for filing of lawsuit, clarifies that settlement covers Couzens claims, removes reference to settlement of all outstanding claims.)

Reporting by Ian Simpson

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