Bathurst diocese suing former insurer for millions it paid out to sexual assault victims
Posted: Dec 07, 2015 4:23 PM AT
Last Updated: Dec 07, 2015 4:23 PM AT
Lawyers for Aviva Insurance are arguing its policies do not cover sexual abuse by priests within the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst.
The diocese has filed a civil lawsuit against the insurer to help it recoup more than $7-million it paid out to victims of sexual abuse.
“Clearly there is no coverage,” said Aviva’s lawyer Charles LeBlond in his opening statement Monday in a Moncton courtroom. “There is no coverage for criminal activity.”
In his statement, LeBlond also said “there is a fair bit of documented evidence that the diocese and the bishops of the day were aware.”
The Bathurst diocese had an insurance policy with Aviva from 1957 to 1983.
Those victims named a total of 26 priests, including Noel and Picot, as abusers in the diocese.
LeBlond told the court there is documentation that Noel had been shipped from parish to parish, including one letter, “where the bishop sent him north where nobody knew his past,” said LeBlond. “A bishop accommodating a priest, knowing he would reoffend.”
LeBlond went on to say that a reasonable bishop would have at least removed the priest from contact with children.
Chris Blom, one of the lawyers representing the diocese, acknowledges the church had knowledge some priests were molesting children.
But, Blom argued that in the 1950s and several decades that followed, the diocese did not know abuse was an insurance risk. And he said the insurer never asked the diocese whether there was abuse within the church.