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Rye church seeks insurance backing in sexual abuse case | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


A Rye church that was accused of negligence for allegedly allowing a sexual predator to prey on children has sued an insurance company for failing to come to its assistance.

Christ’s Church charged Federal Insurance Co., of New Jersey, with breach of contract, in a complaint filed on Feb. 12 in Westchester Supreme Court.

“Federal has denied and repudiated its contractual obligations,” the complaint states, “by taking the position that it is not obligated to defend Christ’s Church.”

Jeffrey Zack, a spokesperson for Federal’s parent company, Chubb Insurance, said it does not comment on legal matters.

Christ’s Church traces its history to 1706, when it was known as Grace Church, according to its website. In 1764, King George III granted a royal charter that formalized its relationship with the Church of England.

It became known as Christ’s Church in 1796, survived two catastrophic fires, completed a new structure in 1868, and continued to flourish for another 150 years.

For 45 years, the church employed Felix McGuire, who claimed to be a descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach, as its organist and piano teacher. Later, he worked for Summerfield United Methodist Church in Port Chester. He died, at age 79, in 1996.

McGuire’s imprint at Christ’s Church would become a scandal, as the result of legislation that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in 2019. The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases for two years.

In 2021, two women sued Christ’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in Manhattan Supreme Court. They claimed they had been continually assaulted as children, from 1967 to 1977 for one victim, 1973 to 1976 for the other, at the church and other places.

They accused Christ’s Church of negligence, alleging, for instance, that the church knew that McGuire had a propensity for sexual abuse of children yet was allowed unfettered and unsupervised access to children.

Christ’s Church has denied the allegations, and the lawsuit is pending.

Federal had issued general liability policies from 1967 to 1977, according to the complaint, when the sexual assaults allegedly occurred. The church cannot find the policies but has found evidence such as premium payments and policy numbers.

The lawsuit notes that the New York Department of Financial Services advised insurance companies in 2019 to cooperate with policyholders who have been sued under the Child Victims Act. Insurers were to preserve and reconstruct old records and data, and to act promptly and in good faith with current and past policyholders, “so that victims are appropriately compensated for the harms they have suffered.”

Christ’s Church says it has repeatedly asked Federal for copies and secondary evidence of old policies, but the company has been evasive and unresponsive.

Christ’s Church is asking the court to declare that Federal Insurance has a duty to pay for its legal defense in the negligence lawsuit and cover the costs of a settlement or court judgment.

The church is represented by Manhattan attorney Dennis J. Artese.



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Rye church seeks insurance backing in sexual abuse case | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


A Rye church that was accused of negligence for allegedly allowing a sexual predator to prey on children has sued an insurance company for failing to come to its assistance.

Christ’s Church charged Federal Insurance Co., of New Jersey, with breach of contract, in a complaint filed on Feb. 12 in Westchester Supreme Court.

“Federal has denied and repudiated its contractual obligations,” the complaint states, “by taking the position that it is not obligated to defend Christ’s Church.”

Jeffrey Zack, a spokesperson for Federal’s parent company, Chubb Insurance, said it does not comment on legal matters.

Christ’s Church traces its history to 1706, when it was known as Grace Church, according to its website. In 1764, King George III granted a royal charter that formalized its relationship with the Church of England.

It became known as Christ’s Church in 1796, survived two catastrophic fires, completed a new structure in 1868, and continued to flourish for another 150 years.

For 45 years, the church employed Felix McGuire, who claimed to be a descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach, as its organist and piano teacher. Later, he worked for Summerfield United Methodist Church in Port Chester. He died, at age 79, in 1996.

McGuire’s imprint at Christ’s Church would become a scandal, as the result of legislation that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in 2019. The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases for two years.

In 2021, two women sued Christ’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in Manhattan Supreme Court. They claimed they had been continually assaulted as children, from 1967 to 1977 for one victim, 1973 to 1976 for the other, at the church and other places.

They accused Christ’s Church of negligence, alleging, for instance, that the church knew that McGuire had a propensity for sexual abuse of children yet was allowed unfettered and unsupervised access to children.

Christ’s Church has denied the allegations, and the lawsuit is pending.

Federal had issued general liability policies from 1967 to 1977, according to the complaint, when the sexual assaults allegedly occurred. The church cannot find the policies but has found evidence such as premium payments and policy numbers.

The lawsuit notes that the New York Department of Financial Services advised insurance companies in 2019 to cooperate with policyholders who have been sued under the Child Victims Act. Insurers were to preserve and reconstruct old records and data, and to act promptly and in good faith with current and past policyholders, “so that victims are appropriately compensated for the harms they have suffered.”

Christ’s Church says it has repeatedly asked Federal for copies and secondary evidence of old policies, but the company has been evasive and unresponsive.

Christ’s Church is asking the court to declare that Federal Insurance has a duty to pay for its legal defense in the negligence lawsuit and cover the costs of a settlement or court judgment.

The church is represented by Manhattan attorney Dennis J. Artese.



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