CIVIL LAW QUESTIONS
1. What specific provisions for insurance coverage exist in regard
to the civil law consequences of the sexual conduct between the Priest
2. What contractual obligation, if any, exists in regard to notification
of insurer? At what point should the insurance companies be told of
3. What rights, if any, does the Bishop have in relationship to the
civil law defense of the Diocese? Can the Bishop eitherselect or reject
the particular attorneys to be utilized? Can the Bishop dictate any
aspect of the handling of the case to ensure that the image of the
Church is protected from injury?
4. If the Bishop is aware of sexual misconduct, or a propensity for
sexual misconduct, that took place at an earlier date, does this fact
become a critical question in subsequent litigation involving child
molestation? In other words, if the Bishop has knowledge that a Priest
sexually abused a child in 1970, does this knowledge affect his liability
in the event of a similar incident in 1980? Does this prior knowledge
by the Bishop constitute negligence on his part independent of Diocesan
Begligence? Can the Bishop be financially liable to the suing parties,
independent of, or in addition to, liability of the Diocese?
5. What civil law obligations exist toward the child victim and the
family of the child?
6. Can suits be brought against only the Corporate Entity, i.e. the
Diocese, or can the superiors, including the hierarchical superiors
(Pastor, Vicar General, Bishop, Metropolitan Archbishop, Papal Representative,
Holy Father, Holy See) be named in the suits as well with some possibility,
of success?7. Can the civil law suit be restricted to the one Priest
and his actions, or will the suing parties be able to expose all other
sexual misconduct of every other priest in the Diocese? Can the civil
law courts cause the Bishop to give information regarding all aberrant
sexual practices of Priests in the Diocese? Can all this information
be subpoened, and will the Diocese be forced by civil law to provide
8. Which parties can bring a civil law suit? Will the child be the
only person entitled under civil law to a recovery of money? Can the
parents sue and recover money?
9. What are the factors in civil law which determine what damages
were incurred by the parties and what sums they shall receive?
10. Is there any provision in civil law for restricting the access
of the press to the civil proceedings? Will all of the civil law proceedings
11. Which Canonical and Clinical procedures instituted at this juncture
shall be later viewed favorably by the civil law courts and which
shall be viewed unfavorably and why?
12. Which initially instituted measures will later be deemed prudent
and reasonable by the civil law courts and which will be classified
as imprudent and negligent?
13. In which civil law cases should the Diocese attempt to force its
insurance companies to either settle cases quietly without public
disclosure or, in the alternative, admit liability to prevent public
disclosure or damaging information? What are the civil law effects
of such settlements or admissions? What are the key factors which
cause a Bishop to consider these alternatives? What effect will settlements
and admissions have on future insurance premiums?
14. Which civil law cases should be defended through trial and appeal
courts? What factors are to be considered in determining whether a
case should settle or be tried? Most importantly, at what stage should
the decision be made?
15. Does the Diocesan attorney have expertise and experience in trial
law generally, and specifically does the Diocesan attorney have civil
law and criminal law experience in the area of these sexual conduct
cases? Should additional lawyers be hired? Should counsel be sought
from lawyers with expertise and hands on experience in this field?16.
What civil law precedents, if any, exist? What was the experience
of prior cases and trial court decisions? What data bank, if any,
exists which might contain accurate information from prior cases and
circumstances in Dioceses across the country? Which individuals (lawyers,
psychiatrists, canon lawyers, etc.) have expertise, experience, and
information on the civil law cases and how does the Bishop contact
the people and gain access to the information?