Insurer Says Many of Priest’s Victims Are Not Eligible for Compensation
By Linda Kor
November 21, 2015
Less than a year after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M., released the names of 31 priests church officials admit had sexually abused their parishioners, there is now a possibility that some of those victims may not receive the financial compensation owed to them.
The controversy surrounds the abuse committed by Clement Hageman, who was a priest from 1930 until his death in 1975, and who was known by the Diocese of Gallup, as a pedophile for most of those years. Despite that knowledge, the diocese assigned Hageman to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Holbrook from 1942 to 1952, and to Madre de Dios Parish in Winslow from 1965 to 1975.
The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013 after a lawsuit was filed by those claiming to be victims of sexual abuse by priests within the diocese. According to court documents, one of the two insurers expected to provide money to settle that lawsuit stated it is not liable for the claims filed by 16 of Hageman’s alleged victims, most of whom are from Winslow. The 16 are among 57 alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse who have filed claims in the bankruptcy case.
The Guaranty Association inherited responsibility for insurance policies issued to the diocese from 1965 to 1977 by Home Insurance Co., which entered liquidation proceedings in 2003. But the Home Insurance policies excluded injuries that were “either expected or intended” by the diocese. The argument is that since the diocese was aware that Hagman was sexually abusing his parishioners prior to his assignments in Holbrook and Winslow, those claims are not covered by the policy.
There has been no final decision on the matter and the discussion goes to mediation Dec. 3 to see if a resolution can be reached.
Those priests recognized by the Diocese of Gallup as being “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor include the following:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Holbrook
Clement Hageman, who was assigned from 1942-52, and is now deceased; William Allison, 1958, now deceased; David Enrique Viramontes, 1960 to 1961, now deceased; Samuel Wilson, 1961, now deceased; James Burns, 1964, now deceased; Douglas McNeil, 1969-71 and 1973-74; John Boland, 1975; Joseph Coutu, 1981-83; and Jose Rodriquez, 1990-92.
St. Joseph Parish
John Newton, who was assigned in 1955; David Enrique Viramontes, 1959-60, now deceased; George Baz, 1968; Douglas McNeil, 1969-70; Lucien Meurnier, 1972-73, now deceased; Jose Rodriguez, 1975-76; and Michael Aten, 1978, now deceased.
Madre de Dios Parish
John Degnan, who was assigned in 1961 and is now deceased; John Sullivan, 1961-62, now deceased; Samuel Wilson, 1964-65, now deceased; Douglas McNeill, 1969-70; Raul Sanchez, 1975-76; Robert J. Kirsch, 1963-64, now deceased; Clement Hageman, 1965-75, now deceased; and John Boland, 1980-83.
Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Snowflake
Jose Rodriguez, who was assigned from 1994 to 2000.