The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, July 16, 2009
For hiding crimes, Catholic diocese loses insurance; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
This judge has found what victims and Catholics have known for years: Catholic officials knowingly, repeatedly concealed clergy child sex crimes. These weren't 'accidents' or 'mistakes' or 'misjudgments.' Top church staffers deliberately hid felonies and endangered kids. Why should insurance companies financially reward such inexcusable criminal conduct?
Let's hope this ruling prompts others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by clerics to come forward, call police, protect others and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Diocese loses insurance coverage
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has lost its insurance coverage in a civil suit alleging fraud related to sexual assaults by a priest.
Troy and Todd Merryfield sued the Catholic Diocese for fraud, alleging fraud and fraudulent non-disclosure regarding sexual misconduct by Fr. Patrick Feeney.
Feeney, since defrocked, was convicted in 2004 of assaulting the brothers in 1978. He is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
After the suit was filed, the Diocese's insurance company, Indiana Insurance, asked to be dismissed from the case, claiming since the Diocese's actions were intentional, the policy didn't cover the case.
In a ruling signed Wednesday, Outagamie County Judge Nancy Krueger agreed and dismissed the insurance company.
"The Plantiffs allege the Diocese acted with an intent to keep knowledge of Father Feeney's past actions from the parishes to which it sent him and by extension from the Plantiffs. As the policy specifically excludes coverage for intentional acts, Indiana has no obligation under this policy to defend and indemnify the Diocese in this matter," Krueger wrote.
Jeff Anderson, who represents the Merryfields, said he is not concerned with the lack of insurance coverage for the Diocese, saying it has adequate resources to pay whatever damages award a jury makes.
"We want the children to be protected and we want those who have been wounded to be compensated," Anderson said. "And it's the Diocese of Green Bay's corporate officers that need to he held, ultimately, to account for the misdeeds of the past so it doesn't get repeated in the future."
The Diocese issued the following the statement:
"The Diocese of Green Bay is disappointed with the courts’ ruling that Indiana Insurance Company does not have to provide insurance coverage for two civil lawsuits filed against the Diocese – one in Outagamie County and one in Clark County, Nevada. The Diocese of Green Bay is adamant that it did not willfully commit fraud in the assignment of former priest, John Feeney. Because these matters are still in litigation, the Diocese will have no further comment at this time."
The Diocese's statement also made reference to its website's section on abuse issues.
To read the full decision, click here.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests