Blue Creek Academy Church Sues Insurance Company
By Lacie Pierson
December 28, 2017
Officials with Bible Baptist Church claim employees with the church’s insurance company lied about the church’s coverage amid a sexual abuse scandal at a church-sponsored school.
The church’s lawsuit against Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company was assigned to U.S. District Court in Southern West Virginia on Dec. 22.
In the lawsuit, church officials say the insurance company and the church’s insurance agent, Stephen Peters, lied in a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court about whether Blue Creek Academy was covered by the church’s insurance policy.
The church originally filed the lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Sept. 28.
The lawsuit that was moved up to district court this month was filed by Pastor James Waldeck, along with Darrell Baker, Howard Prease and Michael V. Minnick, who are trustees at the church.
The insurance company and Peters are the only defendants named in the latest lawsuit.
On Dec. 7, U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston dismissed a lawsuit filed against the church by the insurance company.
Officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources removed students from Blue Creek Academy in 2014.
In 2015 and 2016, two lawsuits were filed on behalf of former Blue Creek students, who said they were starved, physically abused and sexually assaulted at the school.
In the latest lawsuit, church officials said Waldeck submitted requests for coverage seeking defense and indemnification from the insurance company in relation to the lawsuits filed on behalf of the former students.
The insurance company previously said it was unaware of the existence of Blue Creek Academy and the academy was not covered in the church’s insurance policy. The company filed the lawsuit against the church to assert that claim.
In a deposition for the first case, Peters said he had signed an affidavit prepared by the insurance company’s attorney, which was meant to portray that Blue Creek Academy wasn’t included in the church’s insurance policy, according to the latest lawsuit.
Peters said at least one email between Waldeck and Peters showed that the men had met at Blue Creek Academy at least once, and information about the school was included in the application for the church’s insurance policy.
Peters said he signed the affidavit knowing the information in it was false, according to the latest lawsuit.
During his deposition in the first lawsuit, Peters said he no longer wanted to stand by his affidavit.
In the latest lawsuit, church officials seek compensatory and punitive damages against the insurance company.
U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver will preside over the latest lawsuit.