Documents for an insurance lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Ottawa have provided substantial information about the scope and history of the province’s long-standing clergy sex abuse scandal.
The lawsuits are part of the diocese’s efforts to manage the aftermath of the decades-old abuse cases. The diocese has persisted not to reveal how many victims were compensated and how much were they paid.
In the past two years, the diocese has sued two insurers, La Mutuelle and the Travelers Insurance Company of Canada, to obtain coverage for 12 historic sex abuse claims. The suits mentioned the diocese “has suffered and is still suffering significant losses” due to litigation costs for the abuse cases.
In order to offset those losses, the diocese fought for insurance coverage from its old liability insurance policies. The liability insurance defrays church costs in the event that a clergyman is accused of misconduct, such as sexual abuse. It covers legal fees and damage payouts.
Msgr. Kevin Beach, diocese vicar general, said in an affidavit that he and his staff spent over 1,000 hours searching church archives to find decades-old insurance documents. The church approximated its legal costs in the La Mutuelle case at $85,000.
However, La Mutuelle proved that it was not authorized to sell public liability insurance before 1976, meaning it did not have to pay for church costs corresponding to abuse that happened before then. Both parties reached a compromise, where three cases of sexual abuse that happened after 1976 would be covered by old insurance policies.
Five Ottawa priests have been convicted of sexual abuse since 1986, while two others were convicted outside of Ottawa while still members of the diocese.