The Diocese of San Diego is facing yet another lawsuit regarding clerical sexual abuse cases, this time from its own insurance company.
On Friday, March 3, the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America, also known as Catholic Mutual Group, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the San Diego diocese, accusing it of violating the terms of its policies. The insurance company claims it is not legally bound to continue paying settlements the diocese reaches with victims of clerical sex abuse.
According to the lawsuit, Catholic Mutual Group accused the diocese of knowing that numerous members of its clergy “had proclivities toward sexual abuse of children such that coverage is precluded.”
The insurance company also alleged that recent diocesan statements about the abuse cases violated the terms of the insurance policy. On Feb. 9, Cardinal Robert McElroy announced to San Diego Catholics that the diocese may be filing for bankruptcy because of the magnitude of the more than 400 cases it was facing, many of which dated to the 1960s through the 1980s. In a news conference the following day, Kevin Eckery, communications director for the diocese, estimated that it would cost the diocese $550 million to settle all of the current cases.
The San Diego Tribune reported that, according to the lawsuit, Catholic Mutual Group is arguing that “those statements were made without consulting with the insurance company, violating the ‘duty to cooperate’ under the policy and ‘effectively placed an unreasonable baseline on the value on the potential settlement value of these claims.’”
The company has asked the judge to order that it has no duty to “defend or indemnify” the Diocese of San Diego or any of its parishes against allegations of clerical sexual abuse dating from 1958 through 1990, the period over which, it appears, the majority of the cases took place. Catholic Mutual Group is arguing that its policies, which were established years ago, effectively capped how much could be paid out.
Eckery responded with surprise to the news of the lawsuit, saying, “We will be opposing this in court….”
Original story from Lifesite News.