Actually, Bricker, there’s nothing much wrong with what you said in re homeowners’ policies (though I would be interested to see how a court would handle a case where a family member of the policyholder and not the policyholder himself perpetrated the abuse–I bet there’s already one of those out there too ).
The difference is in the nature of individual and organization coverage and, just to be pedantic, we can step through the likely charges after the GE example Cheesesteak suggests.
The little girl who was raped in the closet should immediately tell the police. If things work correctly, the abuser will be arrested, tried and sent to prison on criminal charges.
The girl may then sue the abuser in a civil suit for monetary damages. If the abuser has a homeowner’s policy, he might ask his insurance company to defend him. The insurance company will deny coverage because the harm is the result of the policyholder’s deliberate criminal act. The insurance company will probably win, as in the case cited by Bricker–the policy doesn’t cover intentional criminal acts. The girl will win damages against the abuser, and may claim his house and car and any other assets he has, to the extent of her damages.
The abuser, however, may have very few assets, so the girl may sue GE for damages on a negligence theory–hiring without screening, poor supervision of the day’s activities, soundproof closets, etc. GE may be able to 100% successfully defend itself against charges of negligence if GE can show that it did reasonable screening, that the supervision met reasonable and customary standards and that the closets were not unusual for the purposes designed (i.e., GE proves that it was not negligent in any way). If GE loses, it loses because the girl shows GE was negligent in one or more of these respects; there is IMHO little danger that the bad employee’s act will be attributed respondeat superior to GE because his intervening criminal volitional act was very outside of the scope of his duties. Thus, GE’s insurance should cover for GE’s negligence (unless the policy specifically excludes child abuse or the policy requires GE to do specific loss control procedures with respect to kids which were neglected); the insurer is not asked to cover a volitional criminal act which is the employee’s act only, not attirbutable to GE under respondeat superior. (Bets on respondeat superior are off if GE has a pattern and history of hiring abusers, not firing them when they are revealed and regularly bringing kids around.)
That’s how I see it playing out, but I don’t have to litigate the policies myself.
gum–It is disgusting that it is necessary, but organizations can be wiped out by abuse judgments. This applies for YMCAs, summer camps, swim clubs, Little League, schools, etc., not just the RCC. I do care that insurance that is designed to cover abuse pays up when coverage exists.