Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, June 30, 2011

Church & insurance battle over abuse cases; SNAP responds

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected])

We simply don't believe Catholic officials who claim "poverty" when clergy sex abuse victims step forward seeking justice.

If church leaders will conceal their child predators, they'll certainly conceal their vast wealth.

We are convinced that Bishop Matano has the resources to do right by Vermont’s deeply wounded victims.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. 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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Insurer says Catholic Church responsible for Vermont court fees, possible settlements

By Peter Hirschfeld - Vermont Press Bureau - Published: June 29, 2011

BURLINGTON — The insurer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington says it shouldn’t have to bear any of the legal costs in the latest round of priest sex-abuse cases filed against the church.

An ongoing dispute between the diocese and U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Company returned to court this week when the Minnesota-based insurer asked a federal court judge to absolve it of any financial obligations stemming from five civil cases filed last November against the Catholic Church.

The state’s largest religious denomination settled nearly 30 priest misconduct lawsuits for more than $20 million in May of 2012, but now faces at least five new sex-abuse lawsuits with the potential to consume more time and money.

U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty wants to make sure it won’t be on the hook for either the legal costs to defend the church or financial settlements resulting from the cases.

Four new civil cases filed by former parishioners allege negligence in hiring and supervising the former Rev. Edward Paquette, the subject of the previous lawsuits and several jury verdicts.

A fifth case against the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington makes the same claims regarding the former Rev. Alfred Willis, the subject of five past lawsuits that resulted in more than $300,000 in payouts.

In an 11-page civil complaint filed Monday, lawyers for the insurer argue that the church’s policy doesn’t cover law suits involving claims of “emotional suffering.” Furthermore, according to the complaint, the insurer covers claims involving only injuries from “an accident.” Lawyers for the insurer say the diocese “knew” that the emotional suffering alleged in the suits “would occur or would be substantially certain to occur” if Paquette was allowed to practice as a priest.

Lawyers for the U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty declined comment Wednesday. The church referred media inquiries to its lawyer, Tom McCormick, who did not return calls seeking comment.

Burlington lawyer Jerry O’Neill, counsel for past and present plaintiffs, said the five new cases are “in various stages of discovery” and still “awaiting trial.”

O’Neill said clients in the previous cases have been paid their settlements by the church. He said the dispute between the insurer and the church should have no bearing on his clients. Even if the insurer argues its cases successfully, O’Neill said, “we firmly believe the diocese has the assets to pay them.”

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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests