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Sex abuse claims against clergy cannot be ducked by insurers, victims argue

Insurers can’t duck clergy abuse claims

Title: Sex abuse claims against clergy cannot be ducked by insurers, victims argue

Author: Ted Sherman

Publisher: NJ.com

Date: 15FEB2024

The victim is unnamed, identified only as Doe 68.

Raised in a devout Roman Catholic family and a parishioner of the Church of St. Gregory the Great in Hamilton Square within the Diocese of Trenton, he — or she — was allegedly sexually abused by a priest more than 50 years ago. That abuse began at the age of 8 until “Doe 68″ was 11-years-old, according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court under a two-year window that extended the amount of time victims of sexual abuse had to sue.

The priest is now deceased. The complaint, one of hundreds filed against the diocese, remains in litigation more than two years after it was filed. And last week, the insurance carrier that provided liability coverage for the diocese went to federal court saying it had made repeated requests for the information necessary to analyze the diocese’s requests for coverage and that the diocese refused to provide the information requested.

The insurance carrier argues that abuse cases were not “accidents,” but rather conduct tolerated or hidden for decades by the Church. The company is seeking a ruling from the court that it had no obligation to cover the diocese or any individual parishes or schools for any claims that were not covered accidents or where “the diocese failed to comply with the terms of the relevant policies.”

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Trenton, comprised of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties with a Catholic population of 830,000, did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment. But advocates and lawyers representing Doe 68 and others who have filed suit against the diocese believe Century Indemnity Co., a unit of Chubb Insurance that contains legacy liabilities, is essentially seeking to evade paying out what could be millions in claims.

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