Insurance firms would refuse to give any money to a man alleging abuse by priest
Last Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011 | 1:19 PM NT
The Roman Catholic Basilica of St. John the Baptist is one of the buildings owned by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s. (John Gushue/ CBC)
Two insurance companies say they cannot be held responsible for any financial compensation from a civil lawsuit by a man alleging he was sexually abused by a priest with the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s.
Guardian Insurance and the Insurance Corporation of Newfoundland say the church failed to disclose key information, so they aren’t obligated to pay the alleged victim if he is awarded compensation.
“[The church] was specifically aware of the sexual misconduct of the ‘priest’ and failed to disclose that knowledge to the company when the policy was taken out,” The Insurance Company of Newfoundland said in documents filed in court in 2009.
Guardian said “this failure to disclose was…a material misrepresentation which voids the policy.”
Roman Catholic Priest James Hickey seen here in eastern Newfoundland with Pope John Paul II in 1984. (CBC)
The alleged victim, named John Doe in court documents, claims he was sexually assaulted by a priest, James Hickey, decades ago.
“Hickey sexually assaulted the plaintiff, which assaults included acts of fondling, oral sex and anal intercourse upon the person of the plaintiff,” said the statement of claim.
The document also alleges the church failed to protect the man who claims he was victimized while he went to school in St. John’s. None of the allegations has been proven in court.
“The archbishop and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s knew or ought to have known of the actions, activities and propensities of James Hickey having been previousl given information as to his sexual misconduct before stationing him at the aforesaid Holy Rosary parish in 1979,” according to the statement of claim.
Lawyer Greg Stack is representing a man from the St. John’s area who claims he was repeatedly abused by a priest in eastern Newfoundland. (CBC)Over the past two decades, the church and its insurers have paid out millions of dollars to victims of sexual abuse by priests.
Greg Stack, the lawyer representing the man suing the church, told CBC News that if the companies won’t pay any compensation if it’s awarded, he’ll go after the church for the money.
“In 2001, the church’s business manager indicated that they had between $10 [million] and $12 million sitting in their bank account … so we don’t think the insurance is needed,” Stack told CBC News.
His client doesn’t specify how much he is seeking in damages in his statement of claim. The court document asks the court to determine what compensation would be appropriate.
He is asking that his court costs and exemplary and punitive damages are paid by the defendants.